How Secure Is Cloud Storage?

Marla Milano

Marla Milano Last updated: November 11, 2021

How Secure Is Cloud Storage?

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There is a lot of ambiguity when it comes to cloud storage. Unlike files that save onto your computer’s hard drive, the files you keep on cloud storage are connected to a server of networks. Essentially, when you save files to the cloud, you can access those files from any computer connected to the same cloud network. Therefore, if you have two laptops and a mobile phone, all the same data will mirror across all three devices. A great example of this will be if you have a Gmail account. With cloud storage, you can access your emails, calendar invites, and more on any device you access Gmail. 

Cloud storage makes a lot of sense in today’s day and age with the ever-growing amount of information we store on our devices. These spikes will only continue with more people working from home and wanting to protect their texts, passwords, documents, photos, and videos. The line between personal and professional data is only getting thinner (if there even is a line at all at this point) as we continue to deal with business matters on our personal devices. Our increased device use has led to the unintended consequence of an increase in cyber-attacks. Cybercriminals know how to access your cloud files, which is why it’s so important to take precautionary measures like downloading a secure VPN

Is Cloud Storage Right for You?

Cloud storage sends your data to a server at an off-site location, which leaves the handling of the user’s data out of their control. In many ways, this is beneficial because there’s less responsibility falling onto the user, but it’s also risky due to threats of data breaches. Keep reading to learn more about the risks and benefits of using cloud storage.

Risks of cloud storage

Security issues

Cybercriminals can guess your security questions and passwords to access your files. This can lead to data leaks and potentially having your information in the wrong hands. That being said, you should definitely get a password manager

Limited control of your data

Third parties such as governments and large tech companies can view your private information. Only the cloud provider can deny access to these third parties since cloud data is not stored on your hard drive.

Delays

Transferring large amounts of data from the cloud can cause your internet service provider congestion, especially if you’re connected to a public network. Fortunately, you can counteract this by increasing your internet’s bandwidth. 

Out of compliance with specific industry standards

Industries such as legal, financial, and health care must comply with strict data privacy regulations. These restrictions often result in them not allowing the use of any cloud services.

Benefits of cloud storage

Ease of use

Cloud storage is not only easy to set up and use but allows you to store much more data than if you only had your hard drive. Plus, once you set up cloud storage, you can start using it within hours or days, depending on the storage capabilities you wish to have. 

Cost-effective

Unlike USBs and other external hard drives, cloud storage is often extremely cheap, if not free. It’s also much easier to access all your files from the cloud instead of multiple external hard drives, which is why so many people opt for cloud storage.

IPVanish understands the necessity of affordable storage, offering 250 GB of free cloud storage with SugarSync when you sign up for its VPN subscription. And, if you end up needing more space in the cloud, you can upgrade for a fraction of the cost of SugarSync’s solo plan.

Unlimited capacity

Storage capacity on the cloud is virtually unlimited. Without any storage capacity restrictions, it’s much easier to scale up as much as you need. 

More secure than your hard drive

Although there were cloud security breaches in the past, cloud storage is still more secure than storing all your files onto your hard drive. Hackers will have a much harder time breaching your data in the cloud because its data warehouses are heavily guarded. Cloud data is also encrypted, making it much harder for cybercriminals to initiate malware attacks.

Our Top Cloud Providers

The current top cloud storage providers are Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, and OneDrive. We are going to dive into all four of these providers to compare their security levels. Keep in mind that a VPN will cover any gaps that these cloud providers have.

google drive logo

Google Drive

Google Drive is a trendy choice for both individuals and companies since its cloud services are associated with Gmail. Plus, Google Drive is free for up to 5 GB of storage. 

pros

  • Ease of use between devices and teams
  • Third parties can’t intercept data while it’s in transit

cons

  • Encrypts your data in its internal network
  • Questionable security measures overall
icloud logo

iCloud

iCloud is extremely popular for Apple users since it’s integrated into all of their products. Apple also claims its cloud services are more secure than its competitors.

pros

  • Putting more robust security measures in place
  • End-to-end encryption is available for many of its cloud services

cons

  • Not an open-source software
  • Encryption is not available for individual files transmitted to iCloud
dropbox logo

Dropbox

Based in San Francisco, California, DropBox is the only cloud service of its competitors that’s not tied to a large tech company. Its services, in other words, have essentially become popular on their own. 

pros

  • Tight security measures when transferring files
  • Stores data on servers with solid encryption and dual-factor authentication

cons

  • Does not provide end-to-end encryption
  • Closed source software
onedrive logo

OneDrive

OneDrive is a popular cloud service by Microsoft that offers freemium services like Google Drive. Much like Google Drive, users can have up to 5 GB of storage for free and share files easily between individuals and teams.

pros

  • Strong encryption for files in transit
  • Federal-grade protection for every file you upload

cons

  • Closed source software
  • Can access your data if it wants

Cloud Storage Best Practices

For the most part, your data is safe on the cloud, but it’s still important to set yourself up for success. 

Diversify your cloud accounts

We live in an age of almost endless options. Don’t store all of your files in one place. There are plenty of free cloud storage services to choose from!

Use hard-to-guess passwords and 2FA

Make sure you create unique passwords that are not only hard to guess but different for each of your accounts. To keep track of all these passwords, keep in mind that it’s perfectly safe to use a password manager. Just don’t forget your master password, and be sure to activate your two-factor authentication (2FA) settings.

Browse safely

Your internet browser essentially tracks your every move. Always remember to log out and not save passwords onto your browser. We even have a list of the best private browsers to use that won’t track your information.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, while cloud storage has its advantages, there are still many gaps when it comes to your security and privacy online. Secure VPNs will cover any holes on the security and privacy front. Many privacy-focused VPNs use open-source software and strong encryption, drastically reducing your chances of encountering any breaches or cyber-attacks. That being said, using cloud storage is safe overall. Just be sure to take precautionary measures and encrypt your data where you can.