How Safe is Cloud-Based Storage Really?

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When we talk to people about cloud-based storage, often they have a picture in their heads of what it is. When they hit the “save” button, they envision a virtual stream of ones and zeros floating off into air and hovering there until they need it again. To some people, that’s worrisome. Again and again we hear the question, how safe is cloud-based storage really?

The short answer is, cloud-based storage is safer than storing data on your computer’s hard drive. Let’s talk about why that’s so.

Built-In Storage Security Threats

If you store data on your computer’s hard drive, your office server, or some other external storage device, your data takes up physical space at those locations. Unless you store backups somewhere else, it only exists in one place. Here are just some of the threats that could compromise your computer and destroy or corrupt your data:

  • Spam — This electronic junk mail can contain viruses, worms, spyware, Trojan horses, and other security threats that can delete or alter data and steal your personal information.
  • Malware — This type of malicious code goes unnoticed until it has silently wreaked havoc on your computer and data.
  • Viruses — These file-infecting threats can overwrite existing code or insert infected code into computer files.
  • Users — One of the biggest threats to data is uneducated users who click on things they shouldn’t or delete files that are important.
  • Thieves — If someone steals your laptop or computer and the data it contains isn’t backed up somewhere else, it might be gone forever.
  • Natural disasters — Fire, flood, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters destroy electronics and the data they store.
  • Equipment crashes — If your server or computer crashes, you could lose those stored wedding photos, work files, and vacation videos.
  • Loss or breakage — When people drop expensive electronics, they break. It’s also easy to leave them behind in hotel rooms, airports, and other busy areas.

Cloud-Based Storage Eliminates These Issues

If you’ve ever saved a work file using Google Docs, stored photos using Dropbox, or sent email using Gmail, you know how handy it is to be able to log in to your account from any device and retrieve that information. Cloud-based storage isn’t located on any one computer, so it’s less vulnerable and more secure.

A big reason the data is safer in the cloud than on a personal device is that it’s remote and redundant. If you break your laptop or accidentally download a virus on your work computer, your data isn’t affected. If your office burns to the ground, your data was never there in the first place, so it stays safe.

Cloud servers exist in warehouses under heavy-duty security measures. Certified Data Centers are extremely secure, with around-the-clock armed security and best-in-class features like fingerprint door locks. Reputable cloud storage providers offer these things and more.

  • Advanced firewalls
  • Intrusion detection
  • Event logging
  • Encryption

One of the biggest reasons cloud-based storage is safer is that cloud storage firms typically automate security updates and backups. You don’t rely on a local IT team for security fixes or to save remote copies, they happen in the background without you having to think about it.

Cloud-Based Storage Safety Concerns

“If cloud-based storage is so secure,” you might be thinking to yourself, “Why is there a news report almost every week about some huge data breach?” Cloud-based storage is relatively safe, but risks still exist.

For one thing, when you don’t know who has access to your data, you can’t verify how private it is. Governments can legally request cloud storage companies send them information, and a lot of the time, those companies provide some or all of the files they request. Also, if a storage provider experiences malware infection or unexpected downtime, you may not be able to access your data for the duration of the event.

It’s important to point out that not every data breach you read about is cloud-related. And a great number of them are related to users who don’t understand security threats and bad actors taking advantage of their ignorance.

How to Protect Your Cloud Stored Data

For most people, the pros of cloud-based storage outweigh the cons. In many cases, cloud-based email saves businesses time and money. Cloud computing means you can work from anywhere, which has big benefits for business.

While you can’t stop the government from asking to look over your files if you’re not a terrorist or a criminal you probably don’t need to lose sleep over the thought they might. And, if you follow these best practices, you can address other data privacy issues as well.

  • Use strong, unique passwords. Make them long, at least 8 characters or more. Mix up characters so you have at least one upper case and one lower case letter, a number, and a special character.
  • Enable two-factor authentication. This security feature requires you to verify from a trusted device when you log in from a new location.
  • Know what your cloud storage provider offers. Make sure they rely on built-in firewalls, encrypt data, and consistently perform security updates.
  • Back up important files. It never hurts to create a second, local copy of important files.

Evaluate Your Data Security

Every organization has unique data storage and privacy needs. If you have questions about the security of your current storage or are thinking about migrating business data to the cloud, we’re here to help. Send us a message online and we’ll be in touch.