The notion of “the cloud” is a mystery to many people. So, what is the cloud? All it means is that the data (photos, videos, documents, etc.) is not stored on your physical computer or device. Instead, a set of computers run by someone else at a location far away physically holds the items.
You are most likely using cloud-based services every day:
The benefit to you is that it is everything you create or use is not taking up space on your device. In addition, you are not responsible for maintaining it, updating or upgrading the software, and backing up.
Using cloud services is no different than using any other services. It’s only as good, reliable, or as safe as the owner and their policies/abilities.
In most cases, the bad guys hacking escapades are not directed at “cloud” services. For example, the reported breaches into the VA database, Sony Studios, the DNC and RNC servers, were locally-based servers and systems maintained and serviced on site by those parties or agencies. The computers were compromised, and data such as user account email and passwords, addresses, social security numbers, email obtained because of poor IT management, i.e. bad passwords securing the machines.
When it comes to cloud services, all providers are not created equal. You should evaluate the business. Case in point are two recent occurrences:
Individual user accounts were not the weak point of penetration in either of these instances. The machines operated by Yahoo and UCLA were the targets and entry point. The fact that they were hacked, in and of itself, does not mean inadequate protection. BUT, how each entity handled the event speaks to the overall quality of management and respect for users’ privacy and security.
Cloud storage, backup, and software services are essential in today’s world. They also even the playing field by making services and software options more affordable and giving smaller businesses the opportunity to develop higher end results. For the everyday consumers, they give them more bang for their buck.
Evaluate email, photo or document storage, backup service providers the same way you would anything else:
You are trusting them with your valuable data so make sure you do your homework. Stay informed. Read. Question. Evaluate.