Keeping cloud data safe begins with you.
Cloud computing is no fair-weather fad, with analysts estimating approximately 75 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things by 2020. (Still dubious? See: Predictions 2015: The Days Of Fighting The Cloud Are Over).
In an environment of increasing connectivity and the booming presence of ‘smart’ devices in our everyday lives, a lesser known but equally dangerous cyberthreat is social engineering, which uses predictable patterns from consumers (especially when it comes to passwords) to hack into their accounts. You may have heard of phishing emails (such as what happened to The Onion’s Twitter account last week), yet there are other ways hackers can get you to reveal your information.
But don’t sweat it! Safeguarding your online data is largely a matter of being proactive, and arming yourself with the right knowledge. Here are our favorite basic pieces of advice for doing just that.
1. Your passwords are the gateway to all your online information. Make them strong and unique.
- We know, it’s easier for you to pick something you’ll never forget (the name of your pet iguana + your lucky number) and use that, or variants of that, for every online account. But you wouldn’t use the same key to unlock your office, house, car, mailbox, safe deposit box and briefcase – so why would you use the same password for those equivalent online tools? Make sure to use a different password for each of your crucial online accounts, especially your email.
- Each of your passwords should be at least 12 characters, and contain at least one of each: upper case letter, lower case letter, special character, and number.
- Do not share your passwords or write them down. Memory is always your safest bet. If you absolutely need to write your password down, don’t keep it next to the computer.
2. The security of your Internet connection is equally important.
- When setting up your home or office Wi-Fi network, follow the password guidelines listed above.
- Never connect any Internet-enabled device or gadget (cell phone, smart watch, camera) to an open or public Wi-Fi network (meaning, a network that is not password protected). If you share a network with someone, it’s much easier for them to find your data.
- If you must use an open Wi-Fi network, be sure any emails or information you send over that network are encrypted. Look into free tools that can encrypt emails and text messages. This will ensure your information can only be accessed by the intended recipient with the same encryption tool.
3. And while we’re on the subject of encryption…
- Research your connected devices before you buy. When data is stored in the cloud, is encrypted, and transmitted over an encrypted connection, it’s actually safer than if it were stored on a local hard drive in your house!
- A home monitoring camera like simplicam, for example, employs bank-level encryption on top of using a proprietary video format that can only be unscrambled by the company’s software. Pair that with a secure Wi-Fi network and a good password for your app login, and your video stream is as secure as it can get.
- Finally, use common sense. If you wouldn’t give a stranger on the street your address or credit card information, be equally careful about sharing that sensitive data online.
By putting these best practices to use, you’ll be taking a proactive approach to keeping your online data safe and secure.
About the author
Caroline Tien-Spalding is Senior Director of Product Marketing for ArcSoft consumer imaging applications.