It’s hard to believe that the internet only became available to the public in 1991. Since its release, it has expanded millions of times over, and has completely changed how and why we do things. One of the most recent tools it has inspired is “The Cloud.”
Millions of people use it, but far fewer actually understand what it is or how to use it wisely.
What Is The Cloud?
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To put it simply, the cloud is the internet. That’s it.
We often imagine the cloud as an actual place or special storage area located on the internet, but that’s not really true. The cloud consists of countless servers (computers), both physical and virtual (real and not real), located around the world. They have varying levels of security, different management software, and different purposes. The servers collect data (the photos and information that you upload) and share that data with anyone who is granted access (legally or illegally).
When you choose to use the cloud, you are simply choosing to put your information on someone else’s computer instead of your own. The catch is that you don’t get to know whose computer your information is being stored on. Furthermore, from time to time, that information can be moved, copied, sold or deleted without your knowledge (intentionally or unintentionally).
Is There Safety In The Cloud?
Generally speaking, the cloud is considered to be safer for storing information than if you kept it yourself, but that is a very general statement based on the average person and their security habits.
How is that possible? On the cloud, you are dealing with larger companies that are constantly under attack. Therefore, they are constantly upgrading and improving their security strategies. Conversely, some individuals may install an antivirus program to protect their home computers, but few people encrypt and password-protect their personal computers.
How Do I Protect My Information In The Cloud?
Apply commonsense rules first. Now that you know you are saving your information, photos, videos, and more to the internet:
Read the fine print
If you do choose to use the cloud, then make sure to carefully read the full legal disclaimer of the host site you choose to use, and follow all of their rules.
Don’t upload everything
Critical information like passports, credit cards, legal documents, personal information, etc. should not be saved on the cloud.
Any photos / movies / documents that could harm you if seen by another person without your consent should not be stored on the cloud either.
You get what you pay for
Many people will open a free account because they get a certain amount of storage for free, but nothing is ever truly free. Security costs money, and if you’re not paying a premium for storage, then you’re not giving the host much of an incentive to protect your information / data. That isn’t to say you can’t use a free site, but again, you need to read the whole disclaimer and understand what they are actually promising you for the price you are paying.
Make it hard to log in
Generally speaking, the more convenient accessing your information is for you, the less secure it is. Two-stage verification, tricky passwords, reCAPTCHA, and biometrics are all more inconvenient, but they are also great improvements to security. If you use a simple password and never change it, or if you disable security settings so you can log in quicker, just remember that you are also passing that convenience on to whoever wants your information.
Every cloud is different, and knowing why can help you avoid some rainy days.