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There are many myths about cybersecurity and the cloud. While some people believe the cloud is 100% safe, others worry that it could put them at greater risk of cyber attacks.
So is cloud storage really safe? And which security features should you look out for when choosing a provider?
What is cloud storage and how does it work?
Cloud storage is a system for storing and sharing data such as files, documents and photos. This data is stored on remote servers and can be accessed via the internet.
Cloud storage is usually purchased through third-party providers and sold as a subscription or pay-as-you go service.
There are many advantages to keeping data in the cloud rather than storing it locally on a hard drive or external device – including saving space on your systems and being able to access and share files from anywhere.
Is cloud storage secure?
Despite its many advantages, some businesses are reluctant to transfer their data and documents to the cloud – with many believing it’s safer to stick with local storage.
In reality, the cloud is exposed to cybercrime just like your local hard drives and devices. The difference? When data is stored in the cloud, the responsibility shifts from you to your cloud provider. And compared to small businesses, cloud providers usually have far greater resources to implement robust security measures to keep their systems – and your data — safe.
Key features of secure cloud storage
While reputable cloud providers have the resources to invest in cybersecurity, not all cloud solutions are made equal, so it’s important to be careful when choosing a provider.
Data redundancy is the practice of storing data in two or more places. It means that a service can still run if a data center is affected by something like a fire, power loss, theft or corruption.
Although most cloud storage providers use data redundancy to make sure your data is always available, some providers have more comprehensive redundancy policies than others.
Multi-factor authentication asks users to verify their identity in multiple ways. This could involve a fingerprint, facial recognition, voice recognition, a push notification on a mobile device or a one-time password sent in a text or email.
While usernames and passwords are essential for keeping safe online, they only provide one layer of security. With each additional verification factor, multi-factor authentication provides an extra layer, making it more difficult for hackers to break into your account.
Many cloud storage solutions offer multi-factor authentication, but this isn’t always set up by default – so make sure you turn this on to better protect everything you store in the cloud.
Switching to the cloud means giving up physical control of your files. This might seem daunting, but cloud systems are typically under round-the-clock surveillance, with cybersecurity experts monitoring both the physical and digital security of their networks.
Major providers will implement strict physical security measures to stop unauthorised personnel entering their data centers. These controls might involve on-site security guards, motion sensors and biometric identification.
Reliable cloud providers will also have software teams that work day and night to proactively test their systems and keep on top of missing security patches that could make their systems vulnerable to hacking.
Encryption is a method of scrambling data so that only authorised parties can understand the information. It typically uses a string of characters known as an encryption key to encrypt (lock) and decrypt (unlock) the data.
With zero-knowledge encryption, you’re the only person with access to your encryption key. Even the service provider or app developer knows nothing (i.e. has zero knowledge) about it.
When it comes to cloud storage, zero-knowledge encryption is arguably one of the most important features for protecting your account, data and documents. But it’s not offered by every provider – so do your research if you want a cloud storage solution with zero-knowledge encryption.
Other key cloud storage features
When choosing cloud storage for your business, security isn’t the only thing to consider. You may also want to think about:
- Price and payment options. What’s your budget? And would you rather pay monthly or annually?
- Features. Free cloud storage might be the best option for your bank balance, but you may need to stretch the budget to get certain features such as file editing or multiple users.
- Compatibility. Some solutions are built with specific devices in mind, so before purchasing a solution, check that it works with your systems. For example, do you use Mac or Windows? Will you access the cloud through a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone?
- Capacity and scalability. How much data will you be storing? Is this likely to increase significantly over time? Would you like the option to upgrade when you need more space?
- Usability. If you’re not the most tech-savvy, you’ll probably want to consider a cloud storage solution that’s easy to use. And if you’re sharing with business partners or employees, you’ll want to make sure that everyone can pick it up quickly and easily.
- Customer support. Whether you’re upgrading an account, extending a contract or getting technical support, you want to know that it’s easy to get help in a way that suits you.
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