These days, it is overwhelmingly common for private individuals and businesses alike to utilize cloud storage services in order to keep their files and data secure, prevent loss, and ensure ease of access.
When you have a cloud storage account, you can be certain that your files will be safe in the event of device breakdown, damage, theft, or loss… but what about the cloud itself? Is cloud storage actually as safe as its proponents claim? How do cloud storage providers ensure the safety and security of their customers’ files and data?
Cyber Crime: The Threats to Cloud Storage Providers
According to Statista, the U.S. government lost over 13.7 billion dollars as a result of cyber crime in 2022. While not all cybercrime poses a risk to your cloud storage account, some do. With high profile cases of hackers entering private clouds to steal personal and private images (such as in the case of IsAnyoneUp.com), security and privacy are real concerns for online data storage.
The most common kind of cyber crime faced by private individuals are phishing scams and account hacking. If you keep private data and files in your cloud, this is a real concern. Thankfully, cloud storage providers such as Dropbox and Microsoft Azure take measures to protect their clients from such attacks and secure their cloud computing systems.
How Cloud Storage Providers Ensure Customer Safety
The truth of the matter is that any information you have stored on a cloud could be safer than data and information stored on your private PC. Unless you keep your personal device offline, it is susceptible to attacks, and public-facing anti-virus and anti-malware software can only deal with so much. Very sophisticated attacks, or attacks that trick you into letting a hacker into your computer (e.g., a phishing scam) can still be a risk.
Cloud computing specialists are highly aware of their systems, the potential weak spots, and the most up-to-date methods that hackers use to crack into secure systems and software. Cloud computing providers take safety measures that include, but are not limited to:
- Consistent security updates.
- Robust firewalls.
- AI and auto-patching tools.
- Redundancy systems (e.g., ultra-backups to protect and restore data).
- Third party security tests.
In short, cloud computing providers are actively engaged in combating and preventing cyber-crime as a matter of day-to-day business. This is something that most private individuals do not have the time, tools, or knowledge to do – which is why cloud computing storage is often safer than private storage. However, there are things you can do to improve your accounts’ security:
What You Can do to Secure Your Cloud Storage Account
One of the biggest risks to your cloud account and the information it holds is your personal device. Because many private users have their cloud accounts connected and logged in to allow for automated syncing, these devices are a major weak spot in an account’s security. Here are three steps you can take to protect your devices and your cloud storage account:
1) Run Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Software Regularly
Having robust anti-virus and anti-malware software and running checks regularly is one of the best ways to prevent and remove threats within your personal device. This is a very simple step that you can automate, but it will keep the majority of threats and risks firmly under control.
2) Apply Updates Promptly
More sophisticated threats will be flagged by operating system providers. They will update their systems to cover weak spots and make it harder for cyber criminals to access devices using their platform. This is why it is crucial to implement all security updates as soon as they are required.
While this can be inconvenient, it is key to the safety of your device and all accounts that it is connected to. On a smaller note, completely shutting down your laptop or PC at the end of the day is also important, as this will sever any connection that a hacker may have been able to create unnoticed.
3) Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is a very simple but effective way to stop hackers in their tracks. Almost all cloud storage services offer this option, and it simply requires you to provide two pieces of information when logging in.
For example, as well as your ID and password, you may be sent an OTP (one time passcode/pin) to enter either via a secondary email or your mobile phone. As long as hackers don’t have access to both accounts or devices, they will not be able to access your cloud storage.
Above and beyond this, try to avoid uploading and downloading your files on a public Wi-Fi network. Likewise, consider encrypting highly sensitive files separately, so that any account breach will not impact those files.