Things are changing in the world of data storage as more companies and individuals turn to the cloud to store information. From helpdesks who can now help customers globally through cloud computing to an individual who can now share photos with distant relatives using sites like Dropbox, the use of internet-based storage has grown significantly. Yet, recent news reports demonstrate the importance of protecting yourself when you use internet-based storage for both personal and business use.
Recently, news media outlets were full of reports of celebrities whose personal photos were accessed from their iCloud accounts. Apple’s investigation revealed that there had been no breach in their system but due to a targeted attack on “user names, passwords and security questions.” Too often, users choose the same passwords and security questions for all internet sites, making it easy for hackers to gain access. A list of the most obvious passwords show that too many people use easy-to-guess passwords, including “123456,” “password” or “abc123.” Other passwords that security experts recommend against are your name, your children’s name or the name of a pet. They also recommend changing passwords periodically as added protection.
Two-factor authentication requires an additional step when you sign into an online account. Some websites send a code via text message that must be entered along with your password, while others require login approvals when you sign in from an unfamiliar computer. Although not all websites offer two-factor authentication, if a site does provide the service, using them can add another layer of protection to your online storage.
Avoid Linking Accounts
Linking accounts, known as daisy-chaining in the computer world, can open you up to hackers as well. Using Facebook, Twitter or Google in order to access other social media sites, such as Pinterest, can allow a hacker access to all of those sites at one time. Before using a social media site to sign into another social media site, consider what a hacker could gain access to if they learned your password to that site. If any compromising photos or bank account information could be accessed, do not link the accounts.
Never Use the Same Password or Secret Question
When setting up accounts, create different passwords for different sites to make it more difficult for a hacker to gain access to everything you store on the cloud. In addition, choose a different secret question and answer whenever possible. If your secret question is always your mother’s maiden name, it would not be difficult for a hacker to access your password even if you do use good password practices.
By following these simple tips, it will be more difficult for hackers to gain access to the information you have stored on the cloud and keep your personal information safe. It is also important to back up all data, both on the cloud and on your computer, on a regular basis to protect from loss should something go wrong. A stolen laptop could result in loss of all photos and documents if it falls into the hands of a talented hacker.