Internet security expert Steve Weisman, professor at Bentley University and proprietor of Scamicide, is an extremely cautious man when it comes to Internet security; he even uses AOL because it’s one of the few places that isn’t collecting data on him. Otherwise, he stays unplugged.
So you should take him seriously when he touts cloud storage services that allow for easy employee collaboration and greater efficiency when sharing data as one of the few places that are relatively secure in this day and age. “Of all the things we do online, data storage services are pretty good,” says Weisman. “Cloud storage” obviously, is a bit of a misnomer though.
“It’s not ‘in the cloud,’ it’s stored in a building, and that building might be in an earthquake zone or a flood zone.” What this means is that it pays to find out where the physical buildings are that are storing your data, and whether or not they’re secure. Weisman says you want a company with backup power and AC to keep your storage secure.
What’s more, while the data might be secure once uploaded, you need to ensure the transmission to and from your computers is secure. “This is one area where things get intercepted,” says Weisman. Make sure your transmissions are encrypted.
Finally, make sure you’re using a strong password with at least 15 characters and a mixture of numbers, letters and symbols -- as you would with any other service. A data storage service can’t be held responsible if you’re not doing your due diligence and using a weak password.
Weisman cautions that data storage companies are prime targets for hackers precisely because they store lots of data in one place. “Hackers go after companies like Target and not individual consumers,” points out Weisman, “because it allows them to get as much information as possible.”
“Ask them what they do to protect themselves from attack, but also ask what they do to keep third-party vendors out,” says Weisman. “People think it’s up in the cloud and everywhere, but it’s still open to attack.”
When you’re planning to use cloud-based storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple iCloud or Cubby, look for more than just efficiency: find customer service contact information and ask hard questions about specifically how they’re securing your company’s data and how they’re securing their physical premises, and you’ll keep peace of mind.