Stay Safe in the Cloud

author imagePosted by Mascoma Bank on June 4, 2021

What is cloud computing?

In simple terms, cloud computing is a method of storing files and data in a centralized network that can be reached from anywhere and by any type of device, including mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Do you have a social media presence on sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn? Do you edit photos on Flickr, blog with WordPress, or create files using Google Docs? All of these systems use cloud computing.

The notion of the “cloud” is to show that the data is in a network that someone in New York can access it as well as someone in California. Many people use cloud-based computer services and they don’t even know it. Cloud computing is simply a method of storing and sharing data, applications, and computing power on the internet.

Is it safe?

While there are many advantages to using the cloud to store data, there’s always the question of safety and security. Primarily, cloud computing is an extremely safe way to store data. Most companies have systems in place with their own firewalls and anti-virus software to protect data stored on the premises. Issues mainly come about when computing is outsourced, and the control over security is no longer in your hands.

Here are some tips to protect your data in the cloud:

  • Look for a secure web address. Before adding any sort of personal information to a website, look at the URL—if the website is secure connection enabled, it will have an ‘s’ after the ‘http’ portion of the URL. An ‘https’ URL tells you the website has an SSL license, meaning your information is scrambled as it travels across the internet.
  • Don’t provide personal information. Don’t put anything in the cloud you would not want others to see, especially the government or a private litigant. A credible website will never need sensitive personal information such as your Social Security number, PIN, or bank account numbers. If a site you don’t trust asks you for anything personal, don’t trust it! It could be a phishing scam trying to gain access to your personal information. Pay close attention if the cloud provider reserves the rights to use, disclose, or make public your information.
  • Create strong passwords: Make long passwords with at least eight or more characters. For added security, include punctuation, symbols, and a mix of upper and lowercase letters. Don’t ever use the same password for all of your accounts. Change your passwords at least once a month.
  • Be wary of downloads. Don’t ever download a file from a website you don’t trust. There’re many malicious websites out there that let you download corrupted files with viruses and trojans that can infect your computer and steal your personal information.
  • Check for site updates. Credible websites are updated often with security measures. Look around to see when the site was last updated. If it’s been more than a couple of months, you might not want to trust the site.
  • Read the privacy policy. Read the privacy policy or terms of service before placing your information in the cloud. If you don’t understand the policy or terms, consider using a different provider. Also, make sure that the cloud provider gives advance notice of any changes in the terms of service or privacy policy.
  • Leaving the cloud. Know exactly what happens when you remove your data from the cloud provider. Does the cloud provider still retain rights to your information? If so, consider whether that makes a difference to you.
  • Delete cookies often. Cookies are small files designed to track your web activity. When you enter information into a site, such as a user name and password, the site uses cookies to remember your information so you don’t have to enter it the next time you visit. Hackers can use cookies to gain access to your accounts, so you should delete them often. The method for deleting cookies differs depending on which browser you use, but information can usually be found in your browser’s privacy settings.