SECURE YOUR DATA IN 5 STEPS

SECURE YOUR DATA IN 5 STEPS

In light of recent attacks, many cloud users have voiced their concerns for cloud security. Although features already exist to secure your data, there are a few other tricks you can use to enhance your security.

1. BACK UP YOUR DATA LOCALLY

cloud protection Even though most cloud providers have procedures in place to frequently back-up your data, it is always a good idea to make your own locally. In the unlikely event that your data is corrupted or compromised, you will still have a copy of your files. Some companies even create extra cloud accounts for backup purposes. A chart has been provided to visually represent some backup options.

2. AVOID STORING SENSITIVE INFORMATION

Sensitive information consists of credit card details, identification and customer information. If your account was illegitimately accessed, this information can be leveraged against you. Again, this situation is highly doubtful but with identification theft and ransomware attacks (see ransomware attacks – harsh lessons & surprising insights) on the rise again, you should take no chances. If you must have these files on the cloud, it is best to encrypt them before uploading them for extra security.

3. ENCRYPT DATA BEFORE UPLOADING IT TO THE CLOUD

data encryption Along with the cloud’s service encryption, you can use third-party applications to encrypt your data before uploading it to the cloud. Generally speaking, you grab the file and put a password on it. Better again, take multiple files and store them in a folder that then gets encrypted. This can be done easily with an application such as B1 Free Archiver, which not only encrypts the files, but is needed to open files for decryption. A zipped file becomes a B1 format and can only be opened and unzipped in the B1 Free Archiver. This is an extra security feature as both the password and utility are required. Even if your cloud provider encrypts your data, there is no harm undergoing preliminary rounds of encryption for some extra assurance.

4. USE CLOUD SERVICES THAT ENCRYPT DATA

Explainer: Zero-Knowledge Proof
This method is where you have one party – the prover – who tries to prove that a particular statement is true to another party – the verifier – without revealing any information apart from the fact the statement is true.

A simple way to safeguard your documents is to select a cloud provider that offers local encryption for your data. When you open a file, decryption will be required to grant access. Also known as the zero-knowledge proof in cryptographic, this can protect data from administrators themselves. The added encryption and decryption ensures your files are accessible to you and only you.

5. USE STRONG PASSWORDS AND APPLY TWO-STEP VERIFICATION

A few years ago, a simplistic eight-character password was considered strong. However, with the advancements in technology, about 90% of those passwords can be cracked in seconds. In modern times, your password should be more complex.

Security expert Bruce Schneier explained that “crackers use different dictionaries: English words, names, foreign words, phonetic patterns and so on for roots, two digits, dates, single symbols and so on for appendages. They run the dictionaries with various capitalisations and common substitutions…this guessing strategy quickly breaks about two thirds of all passwords.”

password properties Ideally, your password should be at least 12 characters long and contain a string of assorted letters, numbers and non-alphanumeric symbols that have no apparent pattern such as ‘upt7S&rek94: lX’. That however is quite difficult to remember, so try choosing an array of letters that mean something to you, such as an anagram. Use the anagram as the root and adjust prefixes and suffices for different passwords. For example, ‘IaBtTH! -1D&Com.’ To represent ‘I am better than the hackers! – OneDrive and Company’ for the company OneDrive password.

If you are unsure if your password is strong enough, use an online password checker like the one from OnlineDomainTools. For comparison purposes I ran through one of the most common passwords ‘1q2w3e4r5t’ and the one mentioned above, these were the results:

password properties

Clearly the method works and will give you the best password protection for your data. Just your standard computer would take about 143 quadrillion years to crack, opposed to the 1 year when you use a simplistic password.

But why stop there? Use two-factor authentication to double your security. Once you enter the password, a code will be sent to your phone through your chosen method. So if the hackers get past your password, there is yet another step to get to your data. This security step enables you to take immediate action if a breach does occur.  

READ THE CLOUD PROVIDERS POLICY ON CLOUD STORAGE

The last point is one of the most crucial, read the privacy and security terms and conditions of your provider. Although the documents are long and tend to be quite boring, it is worth the read as it will give you detailed information about exactly what permissions they receive and precise details on their security measures. For example , in 2011 Twitpic had a statement in their terms and conditions saying that sharing your pictures on their service gives them the right to ‘use and/or distribute’ the pictures. Although this isn’t exactly a cloud storage provider, it puts forward a convincing case of why you should always read the terms and conditions.

To speak with one of our cloud security consultants contact CT4 here.



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