How Secure is the Cloud?

This is perhaps the most prominent question on many people’s lips. How secure is the cloud? For some, the idea that your information is just stored in cyberspace fills them with the idea that if it is out there floating around in a cloud it can’t be that secure. It’s a lot like peoples’ view of online banking. Whilst most of us have moved on and adapted to the many ways of transacting online there are still those that fear the security of their information and worrying that their bank accounts will get hacked if they use their card online or enter a password. So how do cloud data storage providers ensure that your information and that of your clients are 1 – transferred safely to and from the cloud and 2 – is safe when it is sitting in the cloud?

Transferring data to the cloud

When transferring data in any form it needs to arrive and be reconstructed into its original format without being damaged or compromised. This is how e-mails are sent from the sender to the recipient arriving in exactly the same format as when they were sent. It is basically a safe way of transferring data from one destination to another.

Encrypting data stored in the cloud

Encryption is the conversion of a digital document or file into another form. This form is known as ciphertext which cannot be understood by anyone other than those that are authorised to view it. This type of encryption ensures that the files remain confidential to all but those that have access to the files and folders. There are other elements of security which are also met by encryption. These other elements are –

Authentication – ensuring that the origin of a message can be verified – sometimes hackers and scammers or phishers will send messages from very similar destinations to those that you think they are from.

Integrity – Proof that the message or file contents are exactly the same as when they were sent and that no-one has tampered or interfered with them.

Non-repudiation – the identity of the sender is known and that person is undeniably the sender of the message.

This is particularly important in the sending of e-mails – being able to authenticate and identify the sender is important to reduce the chances of people falling for scams or hacking attempts.

Encryption is actually a Greek word meaning hidden or secret. Files which are encrypted are ciphered so that they are essentially all jumbled up to anyone except the intended recipient. Most cloud storage providers encrypt their information using the same system as financial institutions and the military and if it is good enough for them then it doesn’t get much better or more secure.

Extra methods of data security

There are cloud storage providers that like to add extra methods of security and some may say that the information we store in the cloud is never truly secure. Some cloud storage providers actually give members of their team admin access to all data – now this is a risk if ever you have a rogue member of the team selling data to external sources. To reduce the risk for those more security conscious providers they actually prevent access to any of their staff and limit access to those that are authorised to view the files.

All in all cloud security is a hot topic. Many are still wary of using a cloud to store information. Businesses still worry about the security of their clients’ data preferring to keep their data stored on servers within their own premises. No-one can deny that on the whole there isn’t a much more secure system. Information is no more vulnerable in the cloud than it is locked in a vault. There will always be break-in attempts or in the cyber world hacking attempts but as long as efforts to thwart potential hackers are kept up then there should be no reason for concern. There are even companies out there offering rewards to the world’s best hackers to try and crack their systems, so confident are they that their systems cannot be compromised.