Is Cloud Storage Safe?
If you’re looking to set up your company’s IT infrastructure, you’ve no doubt seen many arguments for using cloud storage to keep your data safe. Services like Google Drives and Dropbox have made a huge impact on how people preserve important information. With its accurate digital records and easy interfaces, cloud solutions can seem much easier and safer than using various hard drives or flash drives for backups of sensitive data.
However, those who see theft and data leaks from cloud storage may still wonder how safe cloud storage is and if a perfectly secure cloud storage system exists. There are certainly security risks to be aware of with digital cloud storage for your business, but the benefits in terms of security and consistency make the cloud a valid choice for your company’s data storage.
What is the cloud?
Cloud storage is a digital service offered by companies like Google, Microsoft, and Dropbox that provides digital online space to access and store information. The cloud can store anything from programs to data and files, providing a place to maintain your information away from any hard drive or physical storage.
When you use cloud storage, you don't have to worry about losing your data if a system crashes. Your information is still secure and accessible through any computer with access to your cloud account. Most companies will offer some storage for free, but businesses or families can pay monthly subscriptions for better security, more support options, and greater storage space ranging from 15 GB to 2 TB or more.
How secure is your data in the cloud?
One of the prime safety points with cloud storage is on the physical end, as cloud storage is usually held in data centers with backups to ensure it never goes down. It is extremely difficult to access data without the account information, as there are few in-between points where your data could be stolen, leaked, or damaged.
Your data is physically safe from being deleted, and unless a service is going to be shut down or discontinued, it’s unlikely that your data will be damaged. As for security, the safety of your data is only as safe as the account you have with your cloud storage provider, which is to say you need a secure password and proper caution in who and where your information can be accessed.
Benefits of cloud storage
One of the biggest strengths of cloud storage is its ease of use, whether you’re an IT expert or new to setting up systems. Some services like Google Drive allow you to access and edit files directly on the website through various G Suite programs. Others, like Dropbox, appear on computers just like another file folder. These characteristics make their efficient methods of storing data that’s always secure, even if your main work computer needs replaced.
Beyond easy usage, cloud storage is also remarkably safe from damage or deletion. If you keep physical forms of storage, your data could easily be at risk if the computer or server holding it were to be damaged, meaning you could lose your company’s data completely if you don’t maintain a backup. It turns out that maintaining a backup is not easy. People have the best of intentions, but life gets in the way and before you know it you haven’t done a backup in far too long or you come to find that the backup you setup some time ago actually doesn’t work when you need it the most. Keeping a backup is still important, but you can rest easy knowing your files are safe and accessible on the cloud from any computer you sign in from.
Risks of cloud storage
As mentioned, the problems with cloud storage come in the form of account security. The risks of someone hacking a cloud storage data center to steal multiple users' data on the back end are low. The greatest risk for strangers or thieves to access data is by stealing your or your company’s login information.
This information can include passwords, usernames, email accounts, security questions, or other sensitive data that might let them log into your account. You have to keep close track of who is logging into your account and from where. While many services will provide updates when new users access the information from unknown locations, it can be easy to miss these notifications, and some services might not provide them.
Why are people concerned with cloud security?
Even though cloud storage is theoretically quite safe, there have been several news stories over the past few years of hackers obtaining large amounts of account information, leading to leaks and deletion of items in their cloud storage. One of the most famous examples included a breach of Apple’s iCloud in 2014, which led to all sorts of private user’s photos and documents being leaked online.
Outside of cloud storage, stories about user information leaks are unsettlingly common, with large companies like Home Depot and LinkedIn having their user data breached over the past decade. Taking proper caution with your personal accounts and passwords can keep your information safe in these kinds of breaches, but enough high-profile cases have resulted in valid concerns about the reliability and safety of cloud storage.
What can I do to keep my cloud data safe?
The short version is that you need as much security in your personal account as possible. The simplest way to do this is by enabling extra login security like Two-Factor Authentication. It prevents new users from accessing your account without having access to an additional email or phone number, which gets a confirmation code that you need to use before accessing cloud services.
If you are using cloud storage for your business or company, you should also keep track of who and where your cloud storage is being accessed. By using notifications from the service itself or alternate apps and services that log and monitor activity, you will know when your data is accessed and who is using it.
Why you should trust the cloud
For the most part, cloud storage will not be a victim of its hardware or infrastructure. We absolutely have secure cloud storage, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t still trying to break into it. The companies involved in maintaining and protecting these data centers and services are constantly vigilant and doing what they can, but they can only do so much.
There is no secure; there is only more secure. Each company can vary in what forms of security they use, and users have a role to play to engage in proper security hygiene. With the combined efforts of you and your cloud storage provider, you won't have any need to fear your data being lost, stolen, or damaged while storing it in a cloud.
Why is cloud security so robust?
The companies that run cloud storage services are fully aware that they must keep these services secure and consistent. They know that many companies and individuals use their services for backups and sensitive data and go through every precaution possible to avoid being responsible for losing user information.
Cloud storage companies use advanced encryption and security technology that has gone through rigorous testing and undergoes constant maintenance. Their scale allows them to dedicate the resources to data protection and security that are just not possible on a smaller scale. As a result, cloud services generally have more robust security than any local or dedicated storage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Broadly speaking, many of the most popular cloud storage systems are pretty indistinct from each other as far as quality in security. If unsure which service to go with, though, you can usually feel free to gravitate to services connected to the software you already use. For example, if you are using Google programs often, using Google Drive will make storage and usage much easier. Companies and users primarily using Apple products will more likely want to remain on the iCloud to keep better track of a singular account.
The biggest users of cloud storage are likely individuals who use it for personal files, but there are all kinds of companies using clouds for both data storage and product delivery. Netflix, for example, uses cloud storage to allow users to easily access their films and videos without needing to download software, and Google is fully built and reliant on its own cloud storage systems.
Cloud storage amounts will almost entirely rely on what your payment plan is, which can vary in price and quantity between each service. For Google One or Google Drive, free plans will include 15 GB of storage, while their payment plans can range from 100 or 200 GB to 2 TB. You can easily have as much as a professional hard drive through cloud storage, but you can also go with smaller options if your company doesn’t need that much space for its sensitive data.
Alongside having more storage space, many plans also allow you to have additional security options, including being able to add members on different accounts to have access to the storage space, but also giving you easier connections to security experts to help you use and protect your data. Again, these services vary depending on your cloud provider, but either way, you usually get more benefits than only more storage space.