Lesson Well Learnt: Killer Tips for Securing the Personal Cloud
The hefty majority of internet users exhibit a significant level of dependency upon the cloud for digital content applications. From attractive personal cloud storage options to utterly useful email and web-services, cloud technology now has its stranglehold deep into the core dynamics of contemporary personal computing infrastructure. While every passing day witnesses cloud service providers pumping in a great deal of monetary funding as well as human effort to render the private cloud a safer abode for digital content, it is important to realize that the proceedings at the user’s end are equivalent of a decisive factor while taking the efficacy of cloud security measures into account.
There are certain types of breaches that extend beyond the scope of mitigation ensured at the user end – the most noteworthy example being the surgically tailored social hack experienced by Mat Honan last week. For the softer genres of hack attempts, a few extra precautionary measures can mark a definite difference between secured content and the otherwise inevitable information leakage.
To start off with, it is an excellent idea to have distinct usernames and passwords corresponding to each of the cloud-based services. This is fairly important as one would never want a single account contravention to trigger an unavoidable avalanche of the same. Furthermore, the passwords must contain an ample degree of controlled ambiguity so that the ultimate guess would still be a hard nut to crack. Blending in complexity serves the purpose pretty well; an inter play of special characters, alphabets and numbers is bound to make the hack a thorny feat to achieve.
Same applies for answers to security questions. It is preferable not to come up with custom designed questions for secondary level security. Sticking with the defaults is the last thing one would want to do. If the latter does happen to be the case, be sure to come up with answers that are not commonplace. As per theory, one of the most appropriate answers to, e.g., your birthplace would be: JUP1T3R – that’s ‘Jupiter’ jumbled up – obscure, distinct enough, and literally out of this world.
Another counter-intrusive measure is to have one’s digital content encrypted. Tousled information would appear non-sense to anybody lacking the password (and spur) to decipher (or crack) it. Setting up data-encryption does require a slight added effort at the user’s end. Obtaining relevant encryption software and having the encryption password(s) off pat is the least that’s needed. The subscription will cost a few extra bucks and it’s worth it.
Two-factor authentication is another effectual mechanism by virtue of which content can be further secured. Introducing an additional dimension of verification, a unique code sent to the users’ personal communication device in real time for example, is all set to bring a higher level of security. Certain service providers prefer a designated device for two-factor authentication purposes. The dedicated device is provided to end-users that generates a pseudo-random sequence at the push of a button. The sequence needs to be seeded in along with the username and password at each authentication instance. If you’ve landed yourself such a gadget, double-check that it’s kept somewhere safe and is reachable.
In addition, it makes perfect sense to have important data backed up. External hard-drives supporting mammoth capacity ranges have now become affordable. Equally effective is the option of having a secondary cloud backing up your primary cloud. Third party cloud services custom tailored to serve as backup cloud are in vogue.
Last but not the least, it’s advisable to have data done with for good when it is no longer in use. This is particularly important for confidential email messages, sensitive information, secretive contacts and so on. Practices such as using an updated antivirus, deploying a website advisor tool, securing your Wi-Fi network, avoiding anonymous file-sharing and, in general, staying away from anything that seems woolly will accentuate digital content’s integrity. Change willingly before hack-events storm in to prove their might.
By Humayun Shahid
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