Cloud computing has taken the world by storm as the new go-to means of collective thinking. Businesses use it to link workers on projects from anywhere in the world, and individuals have taken the applications of this technology to the classroom and home.
However, recently plenty of questions have been raised about the security of this type of technology, and the possibility of personal information being stolen from servers. Though private clouds were once considered the safest option, public cloud computing services have been scrambling to up their security in the wake of leaks and infiltrations by hackers.
How Your Information Is at Risk
I don’t want to sound paranoid here, but cloud computing comes with some major security risks. The largest of which – startlingly enough – is actually from the employees themselves that have access to the servers. This threat has caused cloud computing providers to ramp up security measures within their own staff, conducting extensive background checks, and monitoring closely for suspicious activity.
It’s alarming to think that the number one threat to your information’s privacy are the people in charge of protecting it, but that’s an inherent risk with cloud computing. Unfortunately, this is just the major downside of this kind of technology – you’re not in control of the server.
Additionally, there’s always the added threat of external infiltration of your information, whether it be hackers getting into the servers themselves, or even the unfortunate incidence of different accounts sharing server space, and winding up with the wrong information. Server sharing is another necessary evil to keep costs down, and it’s an unfortunate risk that someone else on the same server as you could very well wind up with your information instead of their own.
What You Can Do On Your End
Of course, all of the security threats that come with cloud computing aren’t just on the company’s end of things. While the responsibility of keeping your information safe and secure definitely lies with them, ultimately it’s up to the user to ensure that it arrives there securely.
It’s not advisable to use public Wi-Fi networks to connect to any cloud computing services. Hackers often prey upon these hotspots to seize login credentials and personal information, so don’t take the risk if you can avoid it.
However, if you’re on the go and public Wi-Fi is your only means of staying connected, you can encrypt your connection with a VPN. Though the virtual private network won’t do anything to protect your information once it’s in cloud storage, it can at least protect it on its way there. More notably though, it ensures you get a truly private connection, where you can log in to your cloud without worries of being hacked.
The Security Behind Cloud Computing
Despite the vulnerabilities of this kind of technology, there are several fail-safes in place to keep protection up and running on cloud computing servers. Physical barriers exist to protect the connection against things like fires and floods disrupting protection. There is also deterrent protection in place to warn infiltrators as they try to break into information they’re not authorized to access.
As with most other web services, cloud computing also relies upon sophisticated security software to protect against virtual attacks. This software is constantly being tested, and sometimes vulnerabilities are discovered and exploited. Developers are constantly adapting though – a secure cloud is one that you can sell after all.
The Reality of Privacy and Cloud Computing
The truth is, there is little that is private about cloud computing. The entire premise of having a remote server in charge of your personal accounts and information kind of throws privacy – and especially anonymity – out the window.
Pay particular attention to anything along the lines of third party use of your information. Some cloud computing services may share information gathered through their services to recommend more products. More disconcerting still is that these companies can disclose your information to law enforcement agencies and government entities, often without a warrant, and definitely without your consent.
Weighing the Benefits and the Risks
Cloud computing can be a balancing act between privacy and convenience. The technology is undoubtedly versatile, and has made it possible for people around the world to work seamlessly together, regardless of location.
When it comes down to it, you just have to be aware of what you’re getting. Be a shark, and read the company’s policies from start to finish (yea, I know, tons of fun). Know what you’re getting into, and know how your information can and can’t be legally shared.
To secure things on your end, maintain discretion with your login credentials, and use a secure password that gets updated regularly. If you must access the cloud on a public network, secure your connection with a VPN. With the necessary precautions, cloud computing can be totally safe from hackers, but ultimately informing yourself is the best way to keep your information private.
This guest post was contributed by Caroline on behalf of Secure Thoughts, one of the best possible online sources for information regarding internet security.