5 Practices of Cloud Data Security

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Cloud data security is one area we should never overlook. A decade ago, when most of the multimillion-dollar tech companies we know of today were kicking off, data storage was not that much of an issue. This is probably because the number of users who utilized their services was much lower. Among these companies are Facebook, Twitter, Mail service providers like Google and many others. Even the legendary Microsoft didn’t have that much of an audience to warrant the need for a multimillion-dollar server facility.

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However, things suddenly changed at the dawn of 2010. All of a sudden, internet users multiplied, and the rate of growth has not shown any signs of dropping off since then. As much as this meant big business for the online service providers like Gmail and social media sites, danger was lurking in the dark. All of these users expected that their data was safe in the hands of the service providers. There was an opening which online entrepreneurs were very quick to monetize. These entrepreneurs devised a way to make money from storing people’s data in their cCloud storage servers.

For a while now, business storage cloud servers have been running well. Even so, their integrity was questioned in 2014, a year that witnessed many cloud data security breaches. Some of these breaches even threatened the safety of some states. Nevertheless, some practical technical measures were taken, to alleviate the situation. 2014 was likely the year of learning for many cloud service providers. The only recurring issue in cloud data security, and especially storage services that are on a commercial scale, is legislation. Cloud services are so devolved and extensive that we don’t clearly know which guidelines or laws govern them.

The world has been made to believe that observing a few compliance regulations from your cloud service provider, is enough to guarantee the security of your data. What people don’t know is that some of the cloud servers where their data is stored are way far from their country of residence. This means that your data is probably 10 or 20 thousand miles from your location and in the hands of a foreigner. With such decentralization of storage facilities and the absence of a legal body or agreement that protects your data along cross-border platforms, even your own government cannot protect your data nor dispute on your behalf in case of a breach. All the same, users are made to fill some compliance forms, at least as a legal binding that can be used to solve a breach case.

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Compliance is necessary, but beyond this, is there anything else that can bring reassurance and reliability to how data is handled in the cloud? The question of who has satisfactory authorization to access data stored in cloud servers and under which circumstances should permission be granted is still a valid one. In some countries, cloud information can be leaked to government agents if there is a suspicion that the data poses a threat to the security of the country. In other nations, this isn’t possible, particularly in business storage cloud servers. For such cases, the investigators have to use more dubious methods to extract information from the suspected cloud storage server.

Surprisingly, this sounds unethical to most people and most data storage service providers. If given a chance, they would be more than willing to sue such a government for infringing their rights. Again, the government on its side would argue that it has every right to eliminate any threat to its safety. Consequently, one wonders, which is more important than the other, personal secrecy or state security? Until a universal law is established on cloud management, we can’t be certain that our data is safe. Users should thus embark on these five strategies, to help safeguard their confidential information.

1. Honor What’s Private and Ensure it’s Kept Private

In short, if you have something private, don’t risk storing it in the cloud. Why? It’s simple. The cloud is like a trusted friend, only it’s electronic. When you ask your friend to keep a secret, you aren’t 100% sure that he or she will keep it secret. Of course, you expect that if he/she was to be confronted with a compelling situation, (like a life threatening one) he/she would most likely leak your information. The same case applies to the cloud and, in fact, it’s even easier here because it’s just through the click of a button. So the only solution is to keep to your private information private. If it’s bulk data, you can store it on a flash drive and hide it somewhere, or try to think of another alternative to the cloud.

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2. Encrypt

Even with the many fishy methods of extracting protected data out there, nothing has been able to crack encrypted data. Data should be encrypted before it’s uploaded to the cloud. There are several options which you can use to encrypt your data. There are many types of third party encryption software out there. But, the easiest method is through compressing files as you lock them with a password. B1 Free Archiver is a reliable tool; no other compressing software can open one of its files, let alone decrypt them.

3. Ensure that you Design Uncompromising Passwords

One large mistake people make with passwords is making them short and predictable. In the case of cloud storage, you must be very careful with the kind of passwords you use. Remember, you are working on the internet, and anyone who intends to hack your cloud storage account might possess some information about you. If not, they would be willing to first deduce other passwords that you use on other online platforms, in the hope that any of these passwords will work on your cloud account. Cloud users are thus advised to create new passwords exclusively for the storage service.

4. Learn how your Cloud Platform Works

Don’t be quick to choose a service provider for your cloud needs. First, learn about the mechanisms they use to protect data. Learn about their geographical location and how their reputation in data handling is, out there. User agreements include details, which you get before registering an account with the platform. Make a point of reading such details and compare them to other options at hand. Again, don’t be tempted to save money at the expense of the security of your data. Many people and companies have made the mistake of contracting cheaper data storage service providers. This generally leads to sensitive data being leaked.

5. Never use a Cloud Platform that does not Embrace Encryption at the Entry Level

It’s important to encrypt data before sending it to the cloud. But, it’s even better to have the cloud platform itself provide additional encryption. This is still a new feature of the cloud data storage business, but it’s worth a try. Some of the most advanced cloud service providers automatically encrypt the data you give them before they store it. This way, you can be sure that there is little chance the data will be tampered with. If you encrypt a file and send it to a server, it will be re-encrypted, so even your provider has limited chances of cracking it.

Featured Image Source: Thinkstock/NicoElNino

Posted on May 18, 2023