Online file storage is a booming industry with companies such as Dropbox and Carbonite boasting millions of new customers over the past several years. The popularity of cloud storage is no surprise. It is also not surprising that security concerns plague the industry.
With high profile hacking attempts on companies as large as Sony, it is perfectly understandable to wonder if online file storage really is all that safe. The cloud will never be as safe from hackers as locking things in a fireproof safe at the bank, but there are certain precautions that you can take to protect your digital assets.
1. Choose the right provider
The best thing you can do to keep your files safe in the cloud is to choose the right storage provider. Some storage companies simply have better records for safety than others.
For example, Dropbox has suffered from several major security breaches over the years. SpiderOak, on the other hand, has maintained a perfect record for safety over that time.
There are two things to look for in a storage provider. First, look for a zero-knowledge backup provider. Zero-knowledge backup means that the company keeps such strict security standards that not even employees of the company can get into your data.
The second thing to look for is encryption. Make sure that your file storage provider encrypts files before transmission and during transmission. Modern encryption methods are unbreakable by even the most powerful computers.
Both Backblaze and SpiderOak meet these security standards. Backblaze is designed as an unlimited backup provider, while SpiderOak is designed as a file syncing tool. You can took a look at either website to determine which storage provider best fits your needs.
2. Encrypt before you upload
No matter who you choose for cloud storage, you’ll have to place a little trust in them. Even if they promise the best security standards in the world, you still have to trust that what they say is true. If you have particularly sensitive information and you don’t want to take even the smallest risk, you can encrypt your files yourself before you upload them.
It’s actually not all that hard to encrypt files on your own. All you have to do is head over to TrueCrypt.org and download the free software. The website also has simple tutorials that show you, step by step, how to encrypt folders and files using TrueCrypt.
By encrypting files yourself at home, you know for a fact that those files have been fully encrypted. Additionally, you are the only person with the encryption key. Even if the government orders your storage provider to hand over all your information, the only thing they would get is a bunch of encrypted gibberish.
3. Back Up Your Backups
No matter how many security precautions you take, there is always a little risk in storing things online. Hurricanes can wipe out data centers and hackers can shut down large swaths of the internet. For that reason, I recommend keeping more than one backup on hand.
You can store one set of backups in the cloud and one set on an external hard drive at home. The odds of anything happening to both backups are very low. This provides maximum security without costing an arm and a leg.