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How Secure Is Your Cloud?

Business owners are increasingly turning to cloud storage as an alternative to maintaining their own servers. The three most popular cloud storage services are Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive. Each service comes with a specific amount of free storage and allows users to upgrade for a fee. For a helpful comparison of these three choices, see here. Cloud storage providers are promising upgraded security, but there are certain steps business owners can take themselves to protect their data.

  1. Don't Re-Use Passwords. Having one password for every online profile and account may be easy to remember, but if the security at one site is compromised, the hacker has access to all of your accounts. Use an App such as OneSafe to keep track of your passwords while keeping them safe.
  2. Monitor cloud use by employees. If you have an IT department, you likely are already able to monitor the computer use of your employees. Your IT department should be able to track who is uploading which files to ensure that sensitive information is not being uploaded. An alternative is to periodically monitor the contents of your cloud to check for documents that you would not want uploaded.
  3. Research the security offered by your cloud provider. Services such as Dropbox have made promises for increased security to fight hackers, but such changes have not yet been implemented. Also check the provider's policy in the event of a break-in. Often, the only passwords that are reset are those that have been the victim of the attack.
  4. Monitor files for employee theft. If an employee is leaving the business on bad terms, a business owner would not want them taking the only copy of an important document off the cloud before they go. Dropbox provides a "Team" package starting at $800 per year that provides a digital directory and central administration. While expensive, it is also necessary if employees will have access to any important documents.
  5. Encrypt documents before they are uploaded. This adds an extra step and employees must be trained to encrypt the files every time, but it does provide an added layer of security in the event of an attack. Remember, your encrypted files are only as private as your encryption key.

Cloud storage services can be a convenient and cheaper alternative to maintaining a full IT department. However, savings usually come at the cost of security. Being mindful of what is in your cloud and who has access to that information is necessary to ensure that the information remains secure.

Categories: Cloud Computing, Privacy

Photo of Nicholas M. Oertel

focuses his practice in the areas of Michigan non-property tax disputes, business entity selection, corporate transactions, and information technology.

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