Cloud Storage: A Goldmine for Hackers?


Cloud computing storageInterest in cloud computing is on the rise, as evidenced by a recent survey of more than 7,000 C-suite executives, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in conjunction with CIO and CSO magazines. Some 43% of respondents said they were using some form of cloud computing. The larger a company’s annual sales, the more likely it was to have a cloud computing strategy.

In fact, Business News Daily says cloud computing is expected to become a $150 billion industry. 

More Than Big Business In the Cloud

It’s not just big businesses working and storing data in the cloud. Although some people may believe “cloud storage” has something to do with weather fronts, it’s simply an easy way for anyone to save data with a remote, third-party database. And it’s becoming more and more mainstream. Any time you use Gmail to send an email, or upload photos to Shutterfly, as just two examples, you’re entrusting your personal and sensitive information to cloud storage.

The benefit is that you’ll be able to get to that data from any location that has Internet access. The drawback is that data saved on a remote storage system can be vulnerable to hackers, disgruntled employees, or a similar type of digital corruption that could compromise your sensitive data.

The folks at Collaborista, which provides research on data protection, has compiled the following helpful list to keep you safe:

  • Check your sync and share service to see if it supports privacy settings. When it comes to file sync and share applications, make sure that the product you use supports “privacy” settings, which ensures that only people you specifically invite will be able to access a file. The system should also be able to support authentication, with a requirement that users identify themselves and have a password.
  • Set your account to ‘private’ using basic security settings. Most file sync and share applications default to a ‘public’ setting, which means that anyone who has a link to your files can readily access them.
  • If you’ve already shared sensitive files in a public folder, delete them. If you’ve already shared items that are not private, don’t change the status – delete the files and re-upload them in a new, private folder. Changing the folder status from public to private is not a foolproof way to protect files you have already shared.
  • Delete old files that you don’t need anymore. Get into the habit of deleting files from your sync and share application once you no longer need them.
  • Never mix work and pleasure – keep business files and personal files in separate accounts. Your employer may have rules about storing sensitive information on consumer-grade systems, so you could be in violation of law or contract if you put confidential information on those systems. If something goes wrong and the data leaks, the consequences can be severe: lost reputation, regulatory and legal issues and financial loss. If the data belongs to a customer or partner, data privacy concerns arise too.
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Elaine Rigoli

Elaine Rigoli is PRIVATE WiFi's manager of digital content strategy.