Cloud-Storage-Information-TechspertsDid you know that Americans are concerned about the safety of their information? You probably did. In fact, you’re probably one of the Americans who feel that their privacy and sensitive data may be at risk.Why do we say this? A September 2013 study by the Pew Research Internet Project, Anonymity, Privacy, and Security Online, published the following interesting statistics:

  • 59% of the people surveyed do not believe that it is possible to be anonymous onlin
  • 50% of them are worried about the safety of their information
  • 21% of survey takers those surveyed had either their email or their social media accounts tampered with
  • 11% had some form of personal data, such as a credit card number, stolen
In other words, if you’re worried about online safety, you’re not alone.What about using the Cloud to store your data? Aren’t you giving up control of your privacy and personal information by storing it remotely, instead of keeping it safe on your own hard drive? You are giving up control to a certain extent, but it’s not impossible to stay reasonably safe when using the Cloud as a storage solution. That’s why it’s especially important to use these three methods of keeping your data safe in the cloud.Three Steps to Safer DataFirst of all, don’t panic. Chances are you already have information stored in the cloud—things like your pictures, email address, phone number, and home address are often easily accessible. To protect your sensitive data, put on your private eye hat and do the following:
  1. Check it out before you sign up. Before you sign up with a cloud-based service, especially one that stores personal information, do your homework. Look for information about whether they are it is independently audited and whether they it meets industry and regulatory standards. Use an established company that has a history of providing reliable service—not just in terms of uptime (the amount of time that the system is guaranteed to be online), but also in terms of data security. Look for specifics, like data segregation (keeping the data of each user separate from all other users, at least virtually) and disaster recovery plans. Companies should not be shy about posting this information. As an example of what to look for, follow this link to Google.
  2. Look for HTTPS. When you’re about to send sensitive data over the Internet, you need to make sure it’s encrypted. Encryption simply means that the data is coded in such a way that only its direct recipient can see it. (Unencrypted transmissions can be seen by anyone, at least in theory.) How do you know if the site is encrypted? Look for “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP” in the address (e.g., https://www.site.com). Some browsers will let you click on the address so you can verify the type of encryption used.
  3. Get yourself a strong password. This is where you have to play the most active role in keeping your data secure. You have to must choose a strong password. Experts recommend that you avoid using common, easily guessed words and numbers, such as your name, birthday, address, etc. The best passwords are not words at all, but a seemingly random string of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. How will you remember it? Many people choose to use the first letters of a sentence that is important to them. This can be lyrics to a hit song, the title of a favorite book, or anything else that sticks in your memory. And it goes without saying that you have to keep these passwords to yourself. Human error can go a long way towards undermining data safety.

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Perhaps the scariest thing about storing information online is potentially losing control of it. Following these tips will help you keep your information safer and within your control.

Topics: Best Practices, Cloud, Security, Google For Work

Robert McNicholas

Written by Robert McNicholas

Robert McNicholas, is CEO of Techspert Services. Connect with Techsperts on Twitter at @TechspertsJax. Be sure to tweet and share your thoughts below. We’ll read and respond to each of them.