Protect your data on the cloud

With the recent controversy about Jennifer Lawrence’s and several other celebrities personal photographs being leaked over the internet, it is obvious that cloud storage isn’t as safe as it’s deemed to be.  With increasing dependency on cloud  technology for storing information, it is important to protect yourself against data theft and potential leaks. 

Don’t store sensitive information on cloud: Prevention is better than cure. Make sure that you do not expose sensitive data to the cloud environment at all, as there are multiple channels through which it can be used for unethical purposes. 

Read the user information agreement: Before you choose a certain cloud storage service, make sure you read the User Information and Agreement carefully. It might be a tedious process to read the entire document, but it is in your best interests to know the terms of the agreement. It is better to avoid entering into an unfavourable agreement than regretting it later. 

Encryption:  It is a good idea to encrypt your files with a password before you save them on the cloud, so that even if someone gains access to your account, your files are protected. You can zip and encrypt files to speeden up the process. You can also use softwares such as TrueCrypt and B1 Free Archiver to use advanced encryption techniques for highly sensitive data. You can simply share the password with anyone you would like to share the file with.

 
Encrypted Cloud Device: If a huge chunk of your data is sensitive and is generated frequently, you might prefer to use a cloud storage service that offers automatic data encryption and decryption.  This option is recommended specially for those who use cloud storage for business purposes, as confidentiality of data is a sensitive issue. You can explore cloud services such as Spideroak and Wuala for the same. 

Two Factor Authentication: Many cloud storage devices offer the option of a two factor authentication. After the username and password authentication, there is another step in the authentication process. For instance, a particular code might be sent to your mobile phone via text message which has to be entered before you can login to your account. Such a scheme protects you against potential threats even if your username and password have been compromised. 

Back up: Although cloud storage is such a huge success because it obviates the need for backing up your data on an external drive, in some cases it might be advisable to go the old fashioned way. Important information should be stored on an external drive as well, even if it has already been backed up to the cloud. 

Delete regularly: It is important that you delete data that you no longer need, as it might be manipulated in the future for harmful purposes. Delete invoices, bank communications and other such documents as soon as you no longer need them. 
Login from trusted devices only: It is important to make sure that you do not login from unknown devices, specially public ones. You might not realise it, but you could be exposing yourself to threats as browsers might be saving your information while you use the internet. 

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