While presenting on social media in the classroom at the TCEA Convention, I ran into a former colleague who had attended the Campus Leadership Academy the day before. She mentioned a fantastic presentation she attended at the academy on cybersecurity. Our conversation soon drifted to a discussion about passwords and how secure our passwords really are, especially with the amount of data we are storing in the cloud.
When you think about it, the amount of information all of us are storing in the cloud is growing every day. Most of us no longer use USB flash drives to carry our docs because it so easy just to store our information in the cloud. However, we hear about data breaches happening all the time; so how can we be sure our information is safe and secure out there?
Below are a few tips to put into practice to help secure your data in the cloud.
1. Get serious about your passwords.
Strong passwords are a critical component of good security. Passwords should be unique and complex to ensure that others can’t guess them or reuse them to access your other accounts. If you set up your password the Snowden way, you will “shift your thinking from passwords to passphrases.” A strong passphrase could include anywhere from 20-30 characters and a combination of numbers, symbols, and capital letters. An example of this type of password would be, “I enjoyed learning at TCEA 2016,” which would equate to “!enj0yedLearning@TCE&2o!6.” In addition, don’t forget to change your passphrase regularly and don’t use the same passphrase for all your accounts.
On the other hand, you might find that some of your cloud services use two-step verification on top of your login credentials as an added layer of security. In the case of Google Apps for Education, your console administrator can enable two-step verification so that a verification code can be sent to your mobile phone in addition to just your password. President Obama recently weighed in about password security being so bad.
2. Encrypt your data.
Encryption is one of the most effective ways to secure your data. Encryption works as follows:
- You have a file you want to store in the cloud.
- You use certain software which will allow you to create a password for that file.
- You move the password-protected file to the cloud and no one is ever able to see the content of the file without knowing the password.
By encrypting data, you are adding an extra layer of protection and ensuring that your information is readable only by intended parties. Some ways to encrypt your data include using tools like Secret Space Encryptor (SSE) or the Chrome app MiniLock.
3. Read the small print.
Along with storing your data, some cloud services allow you to share your data through them with others. Some cloud service providers don’t advertise that they might have the right to use the content you share on the cloud. Make sure to read the provider’s terms and conditions. There’s no doubt that it isn’t the most exciting thing to read, but it may contain crucial information you need to know.
4. Think before you click.
Sometimes, the security of your cloud data depends on what you do online and what you click on. When using a public computer, do not save your password, and be sure that you log out of your account after you are done. And always avoid clicking on email links and attachments from people you don’t know.
Be sure to keep these few tips in mind when choosing the best way to protect your data. Always remember, your information is valuable; therefore, you need to protect it.