Since cloud technology was invented in the 2010s, it became an actual game-changer to the field of data custody. Holding valuable information in the cloud now represents a truly advantageous option for it is offering a numerous range of benefits, such as affordable prices, higher flexibility, automatic software updates, remote management and much more.
Organizations across the globe prefer to run their businesses on cloud-based platforms these days rather than create an on-site data center: more than 70% of global businesses, either fully or partly, presently operate in the Cloud — not mentioning millions of private users entrusting cloud environments with terabytes of personal data such as photo albums, documents, sensitive files, and so on. But how safe it actually is to keep crucial information on third-party platforms? And what happens once your data is lost from the cloud?
The truth is that any cloud service may lose your data. Of course, cloud visibility and control tools, along with unceasing improvement of machine learning implements, predictive analysis and artificial intelligence being applied allow providing new levels of security, hence lowering the chances of breaches and security failures in prospect. Nevertheless, the technology itself is not 100% foolproof: information on the cloud platform is vulnerable to the same threats as the internet as a whole. And all this together means there is no cloud services supplier that can guarantee complete and flawless security of your data.
WHAT ARE THOSE THREATS?
While it’s immensely unlikely that a major online service vendor will lose your data on a permanent basis, or encounter a complete service outage, there is a number of other causes of data loss that occur all too frequently:
Overwriting Data. Cloud-based applications hold great amounts of information that is constantly added, altered and updated; due to that, most commonly data overwriting is caused by the importation of large datasets via bulk upload, or when it is managed by integrated third-party applications.
Password Cracking. Online services keep large amounts of both private users’ sensitive information and companies’ crucial corporate data — which is why they are of great interest to hackers. It is thus important to understand that even one of your passwords getting hacked may later cause multiple unauthorized accesses to other accounts you own (especially if they are kept under the same cloud storage service).
Cyber Attacks. No matter how big are volumes of information placed in the cloud, you are still at a risk for a data breach: in addition to targeting particular objects and gaining access to them via password hijacking, cybercriminals can also work through more extensive methods. For instance, an attack like distributed-denial-of-service (DDOS-attacks) can disrupt the composition of stored information, leading to massive breaches.
Server crash or outage. Finally, cloud services crash and failures can destabilize the whole system, resulting in some data being destroyed permanently — as it once happened to Amazon’s EC2 cloud services. Of course, such incidents are extremely rare, yet the fact of possibility should convince you to consider taking extra measures which will help you to ensure the best protection of your data.
WHAT ARE THOSE MEASURES?
1. Create unique passwords for accounts
Start off with making sure you haven’t used the same password elsewhere: when you create a unique password for each of your accounts, you avert the possibility of all of them being accessed by an intruder in case of hacking. A password manager — like RoboForm or LastPass — can be helpful at enhancing safety by generating hard-to-guess paroles and saving them on devices you frequently use to access online services. Remember, however, that you will have to provide proper protection for your devices — as, in case of physical theft, all the saved passwords might be compromised.
2. Apply two-factor authentication
Activated two-factor authentication will guarantee you will be notified if a hacker seeks to manipulate your password; of course, this method is not entirely foolproof, but it grants you a possibility to secure the information stored in your accounts from threats like cyber attacks. Also, do not neglect to select obscure questions whenever those are offered in a password setup process.
3. Review connected accounts
If your work implies sharing access to your cloud data storage, reviewing connected accounts is another important step in securing its contents. Any connected accounts that you discontinued should be removed as they may potentially become a gateway for hackers to access your current account. Always remember to keep lists clean on both cloud storage services and social media networks in order to prevent it.
4. Multiple backups
Setting up the automated backup (specifically, cloud-to-cloud backup) would also be a wise thing to do. Regardless of what guarantees are made by the cloud provider, you should always backup your most crucial information to few services at a time: the SLA (Service Level Agreement) that you receive will only cover you for the cost of the service, not for the value of the stored information, so it’s in your best interest to preserve that information in multiple places. Creating a few copies on an external hard drive is an option, too. By the way, if your hard drive is lost, you can do hard drive recovery here.
5. Encryption means safety
As to highly sensitive information, it’s vital to encrypt the data on your own server before placing it into the cloud. As an alternative, you can pick a cloud service vendor that offers local decryption in addition to storage instead of performing it on your own — which also reduces the possibility that service providers or server administrators will be able to access your data (also referred to as zero-knowledge privacy).
These are the most secure ways of minimizing the chances of losing the information you keep in cloud-based storage. And finally, apart from following the tips mentioned above, remember to get to know service providers as much as you can.