How secure are cloud storage services?
By Christina Woodger
Find out how we inspect security procedures for cloud storage services – and the security features you should look out for
Our cloud storage service tests include an interrogation of security procedures and protocols. This helps you to choose a cloud storage tool that keeps a watchful eye over your files, so that they’re protected as strongly as possible from hackers. Here, we reveal what essential cloud storage features to look out for.
Reports of data breaches keep rolling in thick and fast. Unfortunately, we share a world with hackers who work hard to get their hands on personal data.
Millions of people upload personal documents and photos to cloud storage services. So, it’s imperative that the brands behind those services protect all the data they hold, to withstand breaches from even the most devious attackers.
Below, we reveal how we inspect security procedures, and explore what a watertight cloud storage service looks like.
Just looking for the best? Head straight over to our best cloud storage services.
Does the cloud storage service encrypt your data?
When examining cloud storage service security, we address both website and traffic encryption. These are not mutually exclusive, but there’s a key difference.
Website encryption relates to whether the cloud storage website itself is secure. We check whether there’s a safe connection between the cloud website and your own web browser. Traffic encryption, on the other hand, is about whether the data you’re transferring to a website is travelling through a secure tunnel.
Ultimately, the combination of website and traffic encryption means that a hacker would have a tough job of trying to intercept your data.
Weak vs strong passwords
Part of the onus of creating a strong password is on you, the user. But, that doesn’t mean a cloud storage service should let you get away with one that’s too easily guessed by a stranger.
The best cloud storage services won't even accept weak passwords. Instead, they'll encourage you to provide one with a combination of eight or more characters, numbers, and upper and lower-case letters. They also often give an assessment of how strong your password is, to prompt you to improve it.
On the other hand, some cloud services will let you get away with something easier to crack, such as your surname.
We also check whether two-factor authentication is available. This form of security requires you to enter your password, but then an extra code is sent to one of your personal devices (usually a phone) – which you’ll then need to enter to log in.
One of our ease-of-use assessments looks at whether you can password-protect individual files or documents – an extra layer of security for any really important information. If you do this, make sure the password for the file is different than your standard login password.
What happens if you delete your account?
If you delete your cloud storage service account, you’ll also want to know that every file you'd previously uploaded will be wiped securely.
Some services make the process of deleting your account very straightforward, whereas others require more time and effort. At the time of testing Livedrive, for instance, you had to ring its cancellations team rather than quickly cancelling it yourself online.
While some services will let you know that everything has been deleted, others don’t tell you all that much – so your files may be left dwelling long after your account has closed.
Do I need to worry about sharing files with other people?
Lots of people like to share files they’ve uploaded to a cloud storage service with other people, whether that’s pictures of your holiday with your family or a document with work colleagues.
When doing this, make sure that you’re sharing files with people you know and trust. Also, make sure you’re happy with the rights that you’re transferring when sharing – some only let other people view or download the file, whereas others allow editing and commenting rights.