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Understanding the Safety of Cloud-Based Storage

By Hanna Welch | November 4, 2019 |

greater than 5 minutes

Take a look at the most prominent and successful cloud-based storage services, namely Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, and OneDrive, in order to understand how secure they all are and how far they are willing to go to protect your personal information.

Online file storage has gained momentum over the years. Users find online storage services more convenient and reliable compared to their physical counterparts such as external hard drives. The marketing point that we always get from the cloud-based storage is that it is secure. Are cloud storage services secure for real, or is it just a marketing stunt? Well, that is what we will figure out in this article.

Your online safety should be your number one priority. Therefore, although online-based storage platforms are the present and future of data logistics, blindly relying on them may lead you astray. To be honest, it’s true that cloud-based services are not foolproof when it comes to security as you have heard the screaming of tabloid headlines about data breaches, password leaks and account hacks. BUT what is safe? Nothing is, everything online is dangerous, and that is the reason why we should ensure that technology develops to keep on improving our experience online. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the most prominent and successful cloud-based storage services, namely Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, and OneDrive, in order to understand how secure they all are and how far they are willing to go to protect your personal information.   

How Secure Is Google Drive?

Google is a big brand that has a great reputation and a huge clientele base across the world. It has a lot of products, but that doesn’t mean they are invisible to online vultures. In 2018, they fell victim to an attack which exposed close to 5 million accounts. However, the company has since strengthened its security measures. As part of the Google suite, Google Drive also benefited from the upgraded security measures. The only major concern is that Google requires its users to open a single account that will be linked to all of their products. This means a breach on one of their services will result in all of your data, from emails to data stored on the cloud, being leaked or accessed by unauthorized persons.

In light of that threat, Google has considerably tightened the way your login credentials are secured as they implemented two-factor authentication technology. Moreover, the company now utilizes HTTPS to make their services more secure and there are multiple internal security measures that are being used to detect any suspicious behavior on clients’ accounts. Files in transit are encrypted using SSL encryption technology, and when they are stored, they are protected with 126-bit AES encryption.

How Secure Is iCloud?

Apple is a respected brand and a giant in the tech industry. It has a solid reputation. Although, in 2017, there were reports of celebrities that were using Apple products getting their personal data leaked due to cyberattacks, it was later proven that it had nothing to do with the company as clients were the ones who fell victim to phishing attacks, hence the attackers gaining access to their smartphones.

When it comes to their cloud-based storage services, Apple doesn’t take chances as they deploy SSL encryption technology to secure data in transit. When the data is stored on their servers, 128-bit AES encryption technology is applied with the encryption keys being protected by advanced AES 256-bit technology. The keychain encryption keys of your iCloud account are created on your local device, which means Apple cannot access them. This is great in the sense that if Apple servers are to be breached, attackers will not be able to decrypt your data. Secure tokens are also employed for authentication reasons when logging into your iCloud account. The company also offers a two-step verification process which requires the user to provide a password sent to the phone via text message.

How Secure Is Dropbox?

Dropbox, just like any other reputable cloud-based storage service, has also felt the wrath of cybercriminals. In 2012, Dropbox reported that an employee password became compromised, therefore leading to attackers gaining access to a folder containing clients’ email addresses. This resulted in them being heavily spammed. However, thanks to Dropbox having a policy that prevents their employees from accessing users’ personal data, the attackers were prevented from gaining access to sensitive information, instead only managing to get email addresses.

That said, Dropbox has learned its lesson. The company has introduced an optional two-step verification feature based on the Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) protocol. Data is also secured using advanced AES 256-bit encryption technology. When sending or receiving files, your information is protected using Secure Sockets Layer technology. Moreover, Dropbox Pro comes with extra security measures such as the self-destructing feature and password file protection.

How Secure Is OneDrive?

OneDrive is parented by Microsoft, a giant brand in the internet circles and a corporate behemoth that enjoys huge financial backing. Despite Microsoft being a company largely targeted by hackers, OneDrive, previously known as SkyDrive, is yet to fall victim. This doesn’t mean the platform is the safest among all the services described here. There have been a number of justified security concerns and practices leading to the possible risk of a data breach. To top that, users have complained about losing their files, especially when syncing documents using integrated apps, such as those from the Microsoft Office suite. There have been several instances of users losing their documents due to a power outage where OneDrive, which is supposed to sync data in real time, wouldn’t be able to return the work. Although this is loss of data not related to an attack, it does make you wonder whether your content is secure enough to be stored in this platform.

What also serves to many as a reason to look elsewhere for cloud storage is the fact that Microsoft reserves the right to scan through your files to determine which content can be deemed as objectionable. This can lead to some of your content being deleted. In regard to data security, OneDrive protects your data in transit using SSL encryption. As for the rest, your data remains unencrypted unless and until you become a member of their business premium plan. Business Premium users have their files encrypted individually in a way that if there is a breach in one key, only a single file will be accessed. In terms of extra security, all OneDrive users can enable two-step verification, which adds a prominent security layer.

Is Cloud Storage Secure?

The nature of online data storage is complex, and nothing is black and white. All you need when it comes to determining which cloud storage to settle for is to look for something that is really close to safety and where you see a visible effort in strengthening security measures. For most users, encryption should be a key consideration when it comes to both transit and storage of their data. You might also encrypt the data by yourself for added security – well, if you can.

Share Using FileWhopper

Adding to our list of secure cloud environments, there’s a file transfer platform known as FileWhopper that has been developed by Auslogics to help you save, share and store data securely.

  • You can use it to freely store up to 1TB worth of data for up to 14 days (or 3 months, which is an optional extra).
  • No need to upload and transfer your files over and over again: just send the link to the uploaded data to anyone you’d like to gain access to it.
  • The data is deleted, leaving no trace on the web, as soon as it is downloaded by the intended recipient.
  • There are no additional subscriptions offered or required – you only use FileWhopper on a per-need basis.

You can also readily access your FileWhopper links from any device. All you need is to remember the login details that you use on the platform, and you’re good to go!

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