What Do You Know About Cloud Safety?

It seems like everyone is using the cloud these days. Whether they're storing their personal files and photos to share them with friends and family, or they're taking advantage of the amount of space readily available for businesses critical data, there is one common concern across the board: how safe is the cloud?
07/22/2015 03:34 pm ET Updated Jul 21, 2016

By Emily Bartz, NextAdvisor.com

It seems like everyone is using the cloud these days. Whether they're storing their personal files and photos to share them with friends and family, or they're taking advantage of the amount of space readily available for businesses critical data, there is one common concern across the board: how safe is the cloud? To help answer this question, we've broken down three major aspects of cloud storage. Here's what you need to know:

Who's controlling the cloud?

One of the issues surrounding the cloud is the many misconceptions of who is actually controlling the massive amounts of data within it. It may seem that you are paying a cloud storage service to be in control of your information and the files you entrust to it, but in reality you are still the one in control of that data. Many people assume that the cloud provider itself gains partial control or even ownership of whatever they upload and share within its servers, however this is not the case. Simply put, a cloud storage company owns the "container" in which you'll be storing your data. Think of it as a digital storage unit that you're renting -- the provider is not able to control or take responsibility for whatever you keep in your unit, which should provide some relief to those who are skeptical about putting their critical data in the hands of someone else.

How is information kept secure?

Cloud storage providers have come up with countless ways to try to ease the discomfort many users have with keeping their data on the Internet -- a place infamous for its fickle and somewhat unreliable security measures. While there have been many developments over the course of the last few years in terms of the protection and encryption cloud storage providers offer, security standards are rising as users are continuing to expecting more from their cloud providers. Encrypting your files essentially allows only the original user to be granted access to the information, which is otherwise unreadable to an outside source. Read our guide to cloud storage encryption to learn more about how to keep your files secure.

In addition to the encryption cloud services provide, cloud users also need to make sure they create strong passwords for their cloud storage account as well as every other online account they have. While remembering every password may seem like a daunting task, utilizing a password management service will help you keep track of all of them. Just make sure you enlist a service you trust.

What about personal privacy?

Privacy is something that evades many of us when it comes to our Internet presence. We're accustomed to seeing news stories about the latest data breach or celebrities' photos breached from their cloud. It may be easy to peg the cloud as the villain in this type of unfortunate situation, but in reality the cloud cannot be blamed for a total invasion, as most of these instances are a result of user error, such as not using a strong password. Although it's easy to store everything in the cloud, there are some files that are safest offline.

In terms of business cloud storage, users are legally required through HIPAA laws to take extra steps to make sure any customers or employees' personal information is secure. As more companies move their business to the cloud, achieving regulatory compliance has become a top priority for most providers. To make sure you're protected as a consumer, it's best to always ask a company how your information will be stored before you provide it. Ask if it uses cloud storage, and do your own research to see what kind of encryption and privacy policies the company has in place. While some companies may not be too thrilled to provide you with all of this information, at the end of the day it's better to be informed than just assume everything is being stored securely.

While the cloud is a mystery storage unit to some, it gives a great deal of control to those who use it to store their data. With that control comes the ability to create the safest conditions possible within the allotted space. Making sure to be in the know when it comes to what and how your information is stored in the cloud is essential to maintain cloud security.

Follow our cloud storage blog to learn more about the cloud and get tips on how to make the most of your cloud.

This blog post originally appeared on NextAdvisor.com.