How to Protect your Data in the Cloud in 3 Easy Steps
While the term ‘hacker’ is often associated with negative practices, there are instances when it can be done for the purposes of good. This is referred to as ethical hacking, and it has been used to both expose corruption and in some instances test the integrity of networks and IT infrastructures.
This demographic of hackers is in the minority, however, as the majority use their advanced computer skills to gain unauthorised access to data, corrupt files and steal personalised financial information. They have even greater opportunity to steal information through the Cloud, which for all its advantages in terms of data storage can be susceptible to attack.
How To Protect Your Cloud Based Data?
While service providers and website hosts will go to great lengths to protect your data, however, you will need to take a proactive and informed approach towards safeguarding your own online content. Consider the following steps towards achieving this:
Use Passwords to their Fullest Potential
In their most basic form, passwords appear to provide little more than a slim, frontline defence against rudimentary hacking techniques. When used to their full potential, however, strong passwords can effectively safeguard your Cloud-based data from all but advanced hacking methods.
The importance of this is underlined by statistics too, with an estimated 76% of all cyber-attacks on corporate networks are triggered by a failure to adequately password protect your hardware and Cloud-based software. To avoid this issue, your first step should be to ensure that your initial password is at least eight characters in length, although Microsoft recommends using up to 15 digits. Using a unique combination of letters, numbers and symbols also helps, while memorable words also have merit as they can be easily remembered.
Beyond these basic measures, it also important to use multiple passwords to protect your Cloud data. This ensures that even if one end point within your infrastructure is breached, hackers cannot simply replicate this process throughout the network. On a final note, you should look to activate two-factor authorization to provide an additional layer of security, as this enables cloud-based service providers like Office 365 to attribute a unique code to your accounts through SMS.
Beware of Public Servers and Wi-Fi
While some may argue that 4G connectivity and mobile broadband has sounded the death knell for cyber-cafes and public Internet access, the fact remains that there are more public Wi-Fi connections available than ever before. It can be tempting to use these connections whenever you lose broadband capability, at least until you realise that 60% of users admit to utilising any freely accessible Wi-Fi source that they can identify.
The issue with this is that the competition of data transfers over public Wi-Fi cannot be encrypted, which offers an opportunity for hackers to gain access to these networks and individual hardware devices. In some instances, hackers will even establish rogue hotspot connections in order to steal your Cloud-based data, so you should look to avoid these networks wherever possible. If you are in urgent need of Internet access and have no choice but to target such a connection, you will need to take proactive steps to protect yourself.
Part of this is a formulaic process, which involves verifying the official name of the network and its source. Once you have achieved this, you can then activate the Wi-Fi feature of your device, ensuring that all mobile and Bluetooth connections are switched off. You should also make sure that your device’s OS is regularly updated, as both iOS and Android are constantly augmented with new security features.
If you intend to review sensitive data on behalf of your employer, you should also request access to the firm’s VPN (Virtual Private Network), as this automatically encrypts data and shields the identity of your network.
Adopt a Manual Approach to Uploading and Managing Data
Whether you are using the Cloud to store personal data or business files, the platform that you use will have a huge impact on your prevailing level of security. While storage services such as Dropbox or the iCloud may have considerable space, for example, they are also pre-set to automatically upload your videos, images and data files to a single, virtual space.
Given that the Cloud and its automated upload feature may not be suitable for all types of data, however, you may be better served by updating your service’s settings and only enabling manual uploads. This means that your content can only be uploaded by selecting individual files and authorising their storage, which in turn offers you complete control of your information and ensures that data is held in an appropriate location according to its nature, size and value.
Additionally, you may also want to complete this process by organising the efficient and regular back-up of data. This prevents your Cloud-based data from being lost and offers you complete control of your data at any given time. An offline backup of all Cloud-based media is particularly effective; as this ensures that your data can be restored and accessed even if your individual devices are stolen. This can be achieved easily through all mobile OS, which include features that enables the seamless transition of data between smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops.