While an image of a white, puffy cloud is nice, it doesn’t exactly inspire feelings of security. Uninformed users are often afraid that some hacker’s hand can slip effortlessly through the mist and onto their precious data. Not to worry: cloud backups are a lot more secure than that. The virtual version of the cloud is armored, encrypted, and ready to weather the storm of cyber-attacks.
How exactly do cloud backup companies protect data from hackers? There are a few ways:
Data encryption is the #1 means of protection for most cloud storage systems. During data encryption, your files are filtered through a mathematical algorithm, transforming them from readable data into a jumbled mass of nonsense (PCWorld). Even if crooks manage to access encrypted files, they won’t be able to make heads or tails of them. Only your password can restore the files to their beautiful, intelligible selves.
Your data is encrypted prior to transport remains encrypted while it is transmitted and during storage on the provider’s drives. It is only unencrypted when you access your files. Therefore, if you are worried about your personal documents sitting around unprotected in the cloud, you may derive some comfort from the fact that those files are completely unreadable without the encryption key. This key is an enormously long string of numbers, but you can get access with your normal login credentials.
There are several different kinds of encryption commonly employed for cloud backups. The more advanced the encryption system, the safer it is, but since advanced systems are more complicated, the cost more and require longer processing times. Reputable providers have high levels of encryption built in – you can ask your specific provider if you have questions.
Transmission and Storage
Although your data is encrypted, cloud backup providers take extra precautions to ensure that your info is safe. Good cloud backup providers transmit your data over an SSL transmission, a secure communications protocol widely used for to transfer protected information on the Web. Your data is then stored on private disks owned and judiciously guarded by the provider.
You may have noticed that passwords are a vital part of the cloud backup security process. Many cloud backup providers set guidelines for passwords, requiring a certain number and variety of characters, but you can do your part by choosing an extra-secure password. Random collections of numbers, letters, and other characters are best, and the longer the better. Obviously, make sure you do not forget your password.
Some cloud storage providers offer extra protecting by encoding your decryption key as well as your data. For example, Backblaze allows users to create an extra passphrase that you have to enter to decode the key prior to decoding your information. Not even Backblaze knows what this password is, so it would be almost impossible for a hacker to get this information. Watch out, though – if you forget this password, even you won’t be able to access your data!
What You Can Do
Cloud backup providers bend over backwards to provide safe data storage to their clients. To be honest, you should be more worried about your end of operations. To make sure that no one accesses your passwords, which can be used to unencrypt your data, install security software on your machine and run it regularly. Then rest easy: your data is well protected in the cloud.