Cloud Storage: Overview and Concerns
The marketing of cloud-based data services online and offline has made everyone eager to want their personal and business files accessible from anywhere they go. Popular ones now include Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, and iCloud.
These cloud storage services allow you to storage your files and folders on their services, where you can store them on multiple devices. The benefit being that whenever you update a file in place it automatically synchronizes with the cloud version, which then trickles down to any other place you have that file stored. Keeping updated versions of files on all devices is a big selling point.
These services have mobile apps that allow you to access files on smart phones and tablets, as well.
Another benefit to cloud storage is that you have access to your files wherever you go, assuming there is an internet connection. Services like Dropbox can be beneficial if you lose your internet connection and have it installed on a desktop or laptop. When you first set it up, Dropbox puts a folder on your computer where all your files are copied. They are still accessible even without internet. When you get back online, any files you changed will sync up again with the cloud.
Some companies can scan your files for information that might allow the company or their partners to better marketing products and services to you. You may not even realize it, but you could be seeing ads that were created based on what you have written in your files in the cloud.
Hackers are another concern as they like to target bigger organizations that claim to have adequate security. Dropbox has been hacked a few times since it started a couple years ago. Apple isn’t protected against it, as iCloud has been victim of hacking before. When a hacker gains access to a file, they can either use it for their own gain (identity theft, business idea theft, personal or corporate extortion) or post it online for the public to see.
An even bigger privacy concern with cloud storage services comes up when we talk about warrants and subpoenas. While warrants require actual or suspected criminal activity, subpoenas do not. Subpoenas can be obtained by either side for lawsuits, small claims court, divorces and other civil or criminal legal hearings. These cloud tech companies just need a subpoena in order to release your cloud documents, where they can viewed by law enforcement, lawyers, those you’re involved with in legal proceedings, or sometimes the general public.
Another privacy note about most cloud-based storage services when it comes to legal matters: When you delete a file or delete all your files and close your account, those deleted files are still stored on their servers for years. If needed, those files can be recovered and issued to whatever legal authority is requesting them.
A less expected, but noteworthy concern about the cloud is rogue employees from the cloud service company. Each of these companies employs hundreds to thousands of people. Many of these people have some form of access to your files. If one of these employees decides to make bad decisions, it can compromise your data.
The cloud is quick and simple, but not always secure and can lead to privacy issues. There are alternatives. These aren’t free, but they resolve most of these concerns. Solutions such as local or secured off-site backups that you control are ways around a hosted data storage service. Find out more about secure and private data storage options for you or your business.
Cloud data storage services are often free for a limited amount of storage and they provide a level of convenience for the modern-day person and professional. However, when you store files in the cloud you need to be aware of the risks. Privacy can easily go by the wayside when you sign-up. So you have to weight convenience with privacy and make your decision.