The Cloud: It’s all up in the (virtual) air!

Alyce KominetskyTechnology

No matter where you go, people are talking about this mysterious, unknown entity called, “The Cloud.” Some say that it’s like a black hole, with information being passed through it, but disappearing somewhere unknown. Others think it’s a warehouse or storage unit, where you can discard your old belongings for other people to find.

In all honesty, we’re kidding. But we do know how confusing the concept of the cloud can be.

What is “The Cloud?”

The cloud is truly just a fancy way of saying software and services that operate through the Internet. The cloud takes files, photos, contacts, and even text messages and stores them in the virtual world. With this system, you don’t have to worry about losing all of your data when switching to a new phone or if your computer decides it has lived its life.

Another advantage of using the cloud is you’re able to access your information across several devices. Just as long as you have an Internet connection! Every day, cloud services like Google Drive, Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox, and Microsoft’s OneDrive are making life a little easier for technology users. You’re able to collaborate with others, easily share photos to friends and family, and keep track of your schedule no matter where you are. Having this information kept in the virtual world, instead of locally, keeps your device’s internal storage relatively low.

Protect your data on the cloud

We’re not going to lie to you, keeping sensitive information in the cloud is probably not in your best interests. While the cloud is extremely helpful in quickly passing information from one person to another or finishing up a report from the comfort of your home instead of the office, it’s not unhackable. Of course, cloud companies have set up security measures to protect your data. Many companies that use the cloud encrypt the data that’s uploaded, which protects the information, making it far more difficult to hack.

Despite it not being foolproof, there are several ways you can ensure your data is safe on the cloud.

  1. Always read the fine print in the user agreement.

You know that tedious document that you are required to agree to before advancing? You may want to read it. In the document, there should be essential information pertaining to the safety of your data. You want to sign up with a cloud service provider that has strict security policies in place and ensure that they follow them. If the company is rather vague about what happens when the security of the cloud is breached, we suggest you don’t sign up.

  1. Make sure your passwords are secure

Last year, we covered just how important it is to have strong passwords, and this applies to your cloud as well. We’re not going to go into detail as to why this is important, especially since you’ve all probably heard about it before. If not, then please go read our blog post on password security. However, for now, we will say that making your cloud password as simple as “password123” is an invitation to be hacked.

  1. Encrypt your own data

As we mentioned before, many cloud storage services do encrypt data that is uploaded into the cloud. Sometimes, their encryption isn’t enough. Often, the cloud provider will hold the key to the encryption. If their systems become compromised, there’s a possibility that your data will be too. For extra security, encrypt your data. There are quite a few encryption services available, but make sure you do some research before you decide on one. Sometimes, these services won’t be compatible with the cloud storage service you’re using.

What are your thoughts on using the cloud? Do you use it often or would you rather keep your information close to you instead?