Top Threats to Cloud Computing #1: Hackers

This is part 2 of a 5 part series on cloud computing security. You can read part 1 herepart 3 herepart 4 here and part 5 here.

Hackers figure prominently throughout and at the top of the list of threats to cloud computing. They’re evolving better strategies and tools all the time, and it’s fair to say that combating hackers is usually a game of catch-up; businesses tend to be reactive to whatever the latest hack is rather than planning for what might come next. And the hacker’s weapon is usually the internet, which is accessed (to grossly understate it) on a pretty frequent basis.

Since there’s a good chance that no one’s going to stop using the internet any time soon, what can admins and individual users do to protect their data before the worst happens? Google offers some great suggestions on how to keep your data safe in the cloud:

  1. Use better passwords. Services like KeePass, 1Password and others can help you use better (but harder to remember) passwords that are different for every account, are much more difficult to hack and can be stored and managed online in an encrypted way.
  2. Sign out when you’re done using your accounts. It’s easy to forget about, but everyone should get in the habit of doing this. If it seems like too much of a pain to always be signing in and out of your services, ask yourself: if I got hacked because I didn’t sign out of something, how much more of a pain would THAT be? Then go sign out. For your laptop, just shut down your machine at the end of the day.
  3. Lock your device. Since cloud computing is increasingly being done on mobile devices, it makes sense that this would be a weak spot; after all, it’s much easier to leave your phone in a bar than it is to leave your desktop computer there. Set your device to shut down after a period of inactivity and require a password to open it back up.
  4. Make sure you’re using a secure network. Does the Wi-Fi you’re using require a password to access? Did you know that Wi-Fi service providers can monitor all traffic on their network, including your personal information? Is the site you’re accessing just an http or a more secure https site? Paying attention to the details of the network or sites you’re accessing can make a big difference in whether or not your personal data gets hacked.

Although hackers are evolving new tactics all the time, the tactics you can use to protect yourself are tried-and-true battle-tested solutions that are common sense and easy to do. But these aren’t 100% foolproof, so don’t forget to backup your data so that you can recover from cyber-attacks quickly and gracefully.