Why Storing Data in the Cloud isn’t Necessarily Safe

Cloud Storage as It Appears

The way it’s presented to us, cloud storage seems to have no drawbacks. It’s quick, easy, convenient, safe, and free basically everywhere. Cloud storage overtook USB flash drives and external hard drives seemingly overnight; why put your data on another single device when you can safely store it and access it from any cloud-enabled device? Gone are the days when you need to worry about misplacing a USB drive or finding your files corrupted.

But how does cloud storage actually function? Companies that offer cloud storage have a collection of servers which can store your data digitally. You can access those servers from any device with an internet connection with the right credentials. By keeping those files on remote servers instead of your own device, you never have to worry about an unexpected error with your hardware. Your files are still safe and sound…or are they?

Encryption: Never Go Without It

One benefit of cloud storage is meant to be safety. If someone tries to hack your device’s files, they won’t find any data saved to the cloud. That sounds great, right? You don’t have to worry about your laptop being hacked and your sensitive information being stolen. But realistically, let’s consider what’s more likely. Is a random hacker more likely to target your device, or are they going to be more interested in going after a massive server belonging to an equally massive tech company? Unless you’re a president, you’re likely a smaller and less lucrative target than a corporation like Google.

And while the cloud data might not be accessible through your device, it certainly is through the host servers. You see, many cloud storage services encrypt their data. Encryption essentially locks data files, and a digital key of sorts is required to open them. If your storage provider encrypts your data on the cloud, then that company can bypass that encryption whenever they want; after all, they have the key to it. And if hackers can access that key, they can bypass the encryption too. That’s one of the better scenarios, believe it or not; many companies don’t encrypt their data at all, which makes them highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

There is a form of encryption which does offer ironclad protection to your data, and that’s end-to-end encryption. That essentially means that you hold the key to your files instead of your storage provider. That means it can’t be taken in a data breach at a corporation, and you don’t have to worry about your data being accessed by the company itself, either.

In short: If your cloud storage is not encrypted end-to-end, don’t use it! Instead, encrypt your files yourself before uploading them. It’s never worth the risk to your privacy. And speaking of privacy…

Privacy? Who Knows?

Your files are supposed to be private, but if the cloud storage provider you’re using doesn’t have end-to-end encryption, they can access your files at any time. That means that you’re indirectly offering this big company access to all your potentially sensitive personal information whenever they want it.

Cloud Connection Issues

Now, if you’re using cloud storage, the cloud is almost constantly connected to your device. That way, it can save data at a moment’s notice. That might be convenient and efficient, but it’s also very, very risky.

See, the cloud is not magically immune to anything your computer might be carrying. If your files are carrying dangerous software, that can be uploaded to your cloud as well. So, if your files happen to carry malware or viruses, those can get uploaded to your cloud. At that point, virtually all your cloud data is heavily compromised, even though your cloud is supposed to be secure.

That’s why your cloud storage is only as safe as your browsing habits. You can’t rely on cloud storage to protect you from the effects of the shadier parts of the internet. Cloud storage won’t make up for poor browsing security, and if anything, it’s even more vulnerable to it. Make sure to always use antivirus software and avoid suspicious sites and emails!

Which is Why We Come Back To…

Bearing all that in mind, it might seem like cloud storage simply isn’t worth it. However, that’s not the takeaway we encourage here and Nerds 2 U. Cloud storage can be a very secure and reliable option if you’re a cautious internet user who encrypts their own files before saving them. Still, even if it’s a reliable option to have, it shouldn’t be your only backup for your most important data. After all, cloud technology is still somewhat new, which means that we’re still working the kinks out of it. It isn’t ready to fully replace good old-fashioned USB and SSD drives. Those should still be there to carry backups of your most critical information.


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