The MER Experience
The 25th Year of Delivering Premier Electronic Records Management Education

Beginners Guide on Cloud Storage Security

Author: Nicole Williams | @bloggernicolew


Issues on Cloud Storage Security and Recommended Measures

Cloud storage is the rage among corporate and private offices today. And why ever not? So far it is the most cost-effective method for data storage. The fees are generally much, much cheaper than buying and installing hardware to the existing servers in the office. The fee can be as little as less than $10 or $50 a month. The more expensive ones can go as high as a hundred bucks or more. Regardless, these rates are still lower than the alternative.

Cloud storage also comes with the benefit of being the most convenient for sharing data and software among a locally-linked network of computers. Anyone connected to the system and the cloud will be able to access all public files.

Concerns Regarding Security

Now, this same advantage is also what brings to question the desirability of cloud storage for office records. If anyone within the office network can access public files, then that means no file there is 1000% safe from alterations, deletions, or stealing. Even the private folders, which are protected by passwords, do not comfort skeptics. Determined hackers have never let something as measly as a password deter them from getting the information they want, right?

The second point of concern is that cloud storage needs Internet connection to be accessible. Since the Internet is practically like a bridge for everyone to access computers and databases (as evidenced by the notorious activities of hackers), there is a possibility that cloud storage can be accessed by an external computer given that cloud storage is also from an external provider.

These are just the two major concerns of most skeptics regarding cloud storage. Although these do make sense, it should also be noted that service providers and long-time users themselves have also established certain protocols and SOPs to strengthen the security for their virtual storage system. There are preventative measures that will keep your data as safe as possible in an external cloud service.

Security Measures Recommended for Cloud Storage Users

  1. Authentication – Lay down the most basic of roadblocks for unwanted eyes. Having a password and username for protected files is not completely useless. Yes, there are expert hackers out there with the software or equipment that can figure out password combinations, but more often than not the real threats are regular people whose expertise at breaking through classified folders is by coming up with password combinations themselves. So, choose alphanumeric codes that are so random, but easy for you to remember. Don’t use your mother’s maiden name, your wife’s or kids’ names, or any other name that can be pulled out of your personal file or can be figured out by observing your likes and habits.
  2. Encryption – This is the most preferred and most widely used method of keeping stored data safe. With encryption, the data is being encoded in such a way that will only reveal itself when accessed by with the right key. If only one person knows that key, then no one else will be able to open the data stored within.
  3. Authorization – We have seen plenty of FBI and CIA shows and movies where officers wanting access to information would say that they don’t have the clearance to open classified files. That is what granting or depriving authorization means. In those movies and shows they have what they referred to as clearance level. Many offices implement the same thing. If you are not a senior officer, you won’t be granted access or given the passwords to classified files, much less see where they are located. This is an excellent method for keeping confidential business information away from the eyes of the rank and file staff and outsiders.
  4. Compartmentalizing Data – This is basically keeping an office’s most vital data segregated into different cloud storage channels or folders instead of keeping them all in one cloud. You need to think of contingency plans in case someone does make his way illegally into one of your classified data storage. Don’t keep all your savings in one bank, so to speak, so that if one should sink the majority of your wealth will still be safe.

The best way to secure data in cloud storage though is to choose a cloud service network that has an excellent reputation on keeping data safe and protected from viruses and unauthorized viewers. The service itself should have strong firewalls that can keep out external infiltrators. If you are already safe on that score, you can just turn your attentions to keeping office data safe from inside infiltrations.

Lastly, implementing disaster recovery protocols is also an excellent security detail. After all, illegal accessing of files is not the only problem you need to arm yourself against. Computers crashing and accidental mass deletions are equally big disasters. Part of your recovery protocol should be a backup plan, be it through another cloud storage option or electronic, hard drive backup.

Thanks to Jeff Wilcox for the original “cloud storage” photo!
Nicole Williams

Nicole Williams

About the author: Nicole Williams blogs professionally for Micro Com Systems. Her topics of interest include technology and productivity in the workplace.
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Bob Williams is the founder and president of Cohasset Associates, Inc. and founder of the National Conference on Managing Electronic Records, (MER).Mr. Williams is renowned for his leadership in addressing the legal, technical, and operational challenges associated with the life-cycle management of records, especially electronic records.  He has edited two definitive legal research studies: Legality of Microfilm and Legality of Optical Storage.  His also has overseen many industry white papers focused on compliance the SEC’s requirements for the storage of computer stored information (CSI).As a renowned speaker, Mr. Williams has given more than 1,000 presentations at briefings, seminars, and conferences throughout the United States as well as in Europe and South America.Mr. Williams’ primary focus now is organizing, running, and co-chairing the MER, Cohasset’s nationally renowned conference on managing electronic records