Centuries can easily be dissected and discussed by what significant innovations were made in technology. The early 20th century belonged to the automobile, the mid 20th century to the television, and the late 20th century to the personal computer. There can be little doubt, then, that the first part of the 21st century will come to be known as the birthplace of all things mobile and connected: smartphones, tablets, sync devices, Cloud computing and the so-called Internet of Things. Thanks to innovators in the industry such as Samsung, we will continue to see advancements in devices and the connectivity of (almost) anything.
With connectivity comes certain risks though. When data is stored locally, the primary risk is loss due to hard drive failure or other hardware of software complications. As a result, individuals often back up their data to multiple devices or storage drives when storing locally.
With cloud-based storage, the risk of “losing” data is greatly reduced. As an added benefit, individuals are able to access documents and files across a range of sync devices, from anywhere, at any time. For many consumers, these benefits are simply too much to pass up (as evidenced by the fact that external hard drives are becoming a thing of the past). However, because personal information is now being stored in a decentralized location, off of a local device, there exists a new risk: susceptibility to hacking.
If businesses wish to maintain security and prevent information leaks across devices and the Cloud, it is imperative that they put into effect proven security measures. After all, the Cloud is convenient but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely secure. Though the job of securing information may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. What’s important is taking the initiative.
Simple Steps to Safe Syncing
For a business, there is no such thing as a harmless security breach. In a “best case” scenario, employees’ private information is leaked; in a worst-case scenario, proprietary data, trade secrets and sensitive financial information finds its way into the eyes of the public and competitors. For this reason, businesses that rely on cloud-based storage should follow a set of proven guidelines to protect sensitive data. The following easy-to-implement solutions also have the added benefit of being quite effective:
1. Strong Passwords
The simplest and most effective way to safeguard against security breaches is through strong passwords. Just as locking your car can help deter the casual auto thief, a strong password can deter the casual hacker. Don’t use your birthday or, worse yet, the numbers one, two, three and four.
2. Two-step Authentication
Also called multifactor authentication or identification, a two-step authorization protocol requires the user, when first logging into an account from a new device, to verify account ownership through a two-step process. In practice, this means verifying receipt of a link sent to a secondary device, such as a smartphone or separate email address. In other words, a hacker would have to gain access to not one account but two.
3. Anti-malware Software
Yes, anti-malware software still exists and it’s still effective. Installing anti-malware software across sync devices can help protect against viruses, which in turn, can help safeguard against security breaches and information leaks. If your business isn’t utilizing this tool, it’s time to do so.
4. Update Your OS
One way that hackers gain access to systems is through out-of-date operating systems and applications. Be sure to always keep your software programs and operating systems updated – check for updates often and be sure to download and install them. In many cases, updates include protection against known vulnerabilities.
5. Use Common Sense
This one is as applicable to individual users as it is businesses: use common sense. Yes, this may seem ambiguous, but in reality, you’re likely already practicing common sense. Don’t visit suspicious websites or open suspicious emails; don’t download files that you aren’t sure the origin of; and don’t fall trap to phishing schemes and other bait traps. So much of criminal activity can be pinpointed to there being an opportunity; don’t give hackers an easy opportunity.
6. Segment Sensitive Data
If businesses are serious about protecting sensitive data, they would be well advised to consider segmenting it so that it exists on a separate account from less sensitive information. Hospitals, for example, should not store patients’ medical records in the same folder location as its HR policies. By segmenting highly sensitive data, businesses are able to better manage, maintain, and protect it. Think of segmentation as a vault inside of a vault.