Data Encryption for Cloud Storage
The usage of cloud storage services is quite effortless, but it also contains its own security issues. Do you actually know where your data or files are going? You store all your data somewhere on the cloud. The cloud storage provider you choose has complete access to your files and controls where they are stored. You do not have enough information about the security mechanisms and the infrastructure that the cloud storage provider has in place. And if this storage is not situated in your country, you may have to encounter certain legal issues.
What is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage is basically a web based service that allows you to upload your photos, documents, videos, and various other files to a website in order to store them as a backup copy or to share them with your family members, friends, or colleagues. The files that are stored on the cloud can then be accessed from any type of device such as a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone (with an internet connection), and from any location.
How Does the Cloud Work?
First, you will have to sign up for an account from a reliable cloud storage provider. Once this is done, you generally create a folder on your PC and whatever file you store in that folder will automatically be copied to the servers of the cloud storage provider you have registered to. If you make any changes to these files, they will also be automatically updated on the cloud and will be available immediately, for you to access from any other device you may own. Most cloud storage providers offer a trial period version of their services for free and a paid version providing comprehensive features and also unlimited storage space.
Cloud Storage to Store Files
You can use the services of a cloud storage provider to save copies of your valuable files outside your home or office as a division of your backup solution. This means that even if you encounter heavy loss of data due to natural disasters like flood, fire, earthquake, or due to theft, hardware failures, or user errors, you will still have copies of your data stored on the cloud.
Cloud Storage to Share Files
With the help of a cloud storage service, you and your colleagues or a specific set of people you choose can easily access and share your files across a wide range of devices, regardless of where each of you are located. Email portals usually do not allow the attachment of files more than a specific size or number. However, with a cloud storage service you can easily and swiftly circulate the URL of the file you wish to share to everybody you choose to share with.
Type of Encryption Offered by the Provider
The cloud storage provider you register with might store all your data in an encrypted format and have the encryption key in a safe and secure location. Whenever you wish to access your files, you will have to use your username and password to access your account, after which the cloud will decrypt your files so you can access them. If you want other people to access or make changes to your files, you can provide this username and password to them, only after which they will obtain access to your files as the cloud storage provider will manage the encryption.
All your data can be encrypted by the web browser you use in order to ensure that the data you send and receive to and from the cloud storage provider cannot be read or altered along the way. To ensure that your data transfer is encrypted, look for a padlock symbol on your web browser window and make sure the URL begins with “https://”. Once all your files or data reach the cloud storage, they will be decrypted for you to access. Therefore, if you want your data to be stored in an encrypted format, you should either encrypt them before transferring them over the internet or use the services of a cloud storage provider that will encrypt them for you.
Encrypting Files before Uploading to the Cloud
The most secure way to use the services of a cloud storage provider is to encrypt all your files before sending them from your computer. If you follow this procedure, you will hold the encryption key and not your storage provider, and hence no one else will be able to decrypt your files easily, and access, read or use your sensitive information. While this can be an easy and commendable approach for storing your files securely, it will not be possible for you to share your files with others without sharing the encryption key with them, which can become hard to manage.
If security of your data is your major concern, then you can consider signing up to a cloud storage provider that includes encryption as a part of its subscription package or simply do it yourself by using an encryption software provided by a reliable and trustworthy third party. There are also several free or low cost software tools for data encryption available on the internet, but you have to be careful before choosing the one for you by making sure that it comes from a reliable source. This can be determined by doing some research and reading reviews of different users of the product.
Sharing your data with people from different places has never been easier. The cloud allows you to have your files whenever and wherever you need them, access them on any device and share them with your partners or colleagues very easily.