Where once we relied solely on hard drives and memory sticks to store much of our personal data, nowadays we’ve got the cloud. But how safe is it?


Every Cloud Has Its Silver Lining

We live in a digital age where everything from music, books, and films to photos and documents have gone digital. Consequently, we need more and more digital space to store all our digital material, and that’s why the cloud is so necessary. Not only does its revolutionary format make unlimited storage a very viable option, but now crashed computers, lost memory sticks, and the occasional virus seem like concerns of a prehistoric age. All of our precious personal data has been backed up and rendered easily accessible courtesy of the gigantic and remote servers which fuel any cloud storage facility. Storing data is more convenient than ever. Yet there remains one nagging question on the back of everyone’s mind and on the tip of a fair few tongues: “Is storing personal data in the cloud safe?”

A Gap in the Clouds

If you believe that password access is sufficient to protect your personal data, then almost all cloud storage solutions will tick the necessary boxes. However, here’s the rub, and it’s a big one: Passwords may be safe to a degree, but they can be hacked. If the material you store in the cloud is protected by a password alone, then make sure that word/number combination is tough to crack.

It is a good working practice to change all of your passwords frequently. Here’s an extra tip: keep the passwords complicated! It may be a headache remembering all your complicated combinations, but if you value your personal data, then surely it’s worth it.

Keep It Cryptic

Not all cloud storage solutions encrypt your personal data when it’s traveling back and forth over the Internet, which makes the data a very visible target for hackers to capture and exploit. Big-name cloud providers such as Amazon Cloud Drive and Dropbox offer a third-party app for encrypting data so that if it’s captured en route, it’s impossible to read. For peace of mind, always check to make sure your cloud storage provider offers at least some type of data encryption. A good indication of reliable encryption is when there is a “https” instead of “http” in front of your browser address bar’s URL. The extra “s” indicates a secure form.

Other Points to Consider

Hackers will usually attack the cloud storage service itself as opposed to its individual users. So ensure that your service provider has an excellent track record of keeping its clients’ private data secure. Yet even companies with enviable reputations for both physical and network security possess some vulnerabilities in regard to their cloud storage facilities. Ideally your data should be spread across multiple geographical locations in case of a natural disaster or server failure.

Additionally, in the United States, a subpoena could be served at any time on any cloud company, forcing the company to open its clients’ data for inspection. In the final analysis, storing music, photos, and other data in the cloud shouldn’t cause you too many restless nights, but with more confidential data, you may want to weigh up your options very carefully.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Paul Williams
Paul Williams

Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.