Is My Data Safe in the Cloud?

Betteridge’s Law states that any headline ending with a question mark has “no” for an answer. I’m breaking that general rule by answering this headline with an enthusiastic “maybe”. The fact is, when it comes to data safety in the cloud, it is partially up to you.

Depending on how you define “safe”, the answer may be “no”. Nothing is entirely safe in the cloud. Then again, nothing is entirely safe anywhere. We can loosely define the cloud as someone else’s hard drive. The cloud is not some magical, digital fairy land where disembodied data comes to stay. It is a series of giant, fast, expensive server farms. The cloud is not some soft and fluffy otherworld reality. It is iron, big, bad, stone-cold iron. It is just housed somewhere else, and managed by someone else.

As an individual, there is a lot about cloud security that is beyond your control. But there are definitely some things you can do to decrease your chances of being a victim. All of them require you to do a bit of homework, and be a lot more proactive. If you are really worried about your data in the cloud, think about this:

Be Careful With Whom You Do Business

Perhaps Target has been beaten enough for that horrible data breach that happened on their watch. Perhaps not. While it is true that Target was also a victim of bad people doing bad things, they were also the keepers of a lot of sensitive data with which they were entrusted. They betrayed that trust by their amateur hour security practices. According to the settlement agreement, they will be punished, but not nearly enough.

There was nothing you could have done about that data breach. But Target is one of the retailers involved in a mobile payment scheme called CurrentC. The retailers in this future debacle are in it for the wrong reasons. They are not doing it to offer value to customers, or to fix a broken system. They are doing it because of who they don’t like.

Security is clearly not a priority for them, as they have already been breached before they even launch. There is enough information about this system to categorically advise against using it. Don’t just automatically trust every payment scheme that comes along. Do some research and make an informed decision about who you will do business with.

Choose the Right Hosting Service

It is easy to be angry at big businesses for getting cloud security wrong. But what about when you start a small business of your own? The same challenges Target got so wrong, now face you. If you are going to collect user data and do any ecommerce, you are going to have to choose the right web hosting service for your business.

No one service is right for everyone. Again, you have to do your homework, learn about the different services, and decide which is right for you. If you’re looking for a web hosting company that can facilitate the use of a high-powered CMS like Joomla, you may be interested in the Arvixe’s web hosting, which features services and support for hosting Joomla.

Passwords and Encryption

Finally, the two types of locks typically used to keep data safe are passwords and encryption. Passwords are most common, but can be hacked. So use better passwords, you know, the kind you will likely forget. The workaround is to use password managers that require you to remember only one strong password. The software remembers all your other passwords, and they can all be changed at a moment’s notice. That system is also not perfect. But it is worlds better than “password123”. Read books like “Password Security Tips: 101+ Tips, Secrets, Ideas, Suggestions, Tricks, Methods And Techniques” for more information.

Is your data safe in the cloud? Maybe. Is it safer in your wallet or on your hard drive? Probably not. The cloud is a little like flying. When something bad happens, it effects a lot of people at once. But generally, it is still the safest way to travel.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.