Is the Cloud Dangerous?

One of the comments I received on my article on lessons learned from a fairly public online hacking was very concise:

“That’s why the cloud is dangerous.”

I think a lot of people feel that to varying degrees.

I disagree strongly.

I also think believing the cloud is dangerous prevents you from taking advantage of the things it can do for you — things like protecting your data…

… as well as a number of things you’re already doing, and have been doing for years.

Read moreIs the Cloud Dangerous?

Is an Online Backup Service a Good Idea?

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I keep hearing about online backup services that will back up your data to “the cloud”. Assuming it’s secure, why shouldn’t I do that and skip the hassle of doing backups to an external hard drive or whatever?

I’ve written some about free online backup services before, but I want to take this opportunity to look at the entire concept of online backups, whether they’re free or paid.

Online backup services can be a useful component of a broader backup strategy, but there are a number of factors to consider before deciding if online backup is the right thing to do, including security, completeness, speed, and cost.

Read moreIs an Online Backup Service a Good Idea?

Four Important Rules to Safely Use Cloud Storage as Cloud Backup

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I now have 1 TB of Microsoft OneDrive storage. How should that affect my backup strategy? Most of my data files are now on OneDrive; do those need to be backed up? Can I use OneDrive space as my “external hard drive” for backups of my other files? How about for image backups? Can/Should Macrium Reflect put a system image onto OneDrive? Other advice re wise and safe use of cloud storage?

The availability of lots of cloud storage services has greatly expanded our options for keeping our data both safe and accessible.

While it’s expanded our ability to establish cloud backup options, it’s also greatly expanded our ability to get it wrong. It’s now very easy to think you are backed up when you are not, or to inadvertently expose yourself to additional risks.

Let’s review some rules about backing up, and about cloud backup specifically.

Read moreFour Important Rules to Safely Use Cloud Storage as Cloud Backup

How should I store scans of old photographs?

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I’m in charge of scanning old family photo albums (dating back to the 1800s), and an saving them on CDs. After reading many articles, I am confused as to what I should use to save them on. CDs, USBs, external hard drives…. Do you have a suggestion? I don’t want a future generation to go to look or print from them, and find that they no longer are accessible.

Well, the short answer is that I would wave you off of CDs right away. For something that important, I think other solutions are called for.

As I’ve discussed before, the continual progress of storage technologies is an ongoing issue. What we choose today might not be appropriate in a few years or a few decades.

Rather than tell you what you should do, let me tell you what I do in case my photographs are ever of interest to future generations.

Read moreHow should I store scans of old photographs?

How safe is iCloud?

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OK, Leo. How safe is iCloud? I have a feeling that privacy is a thing of the past. How do I know that nobody’s looking at my stuff?

This question is bigger than just iCloud. How safe is any online service, to be honest?

Ultimately, with any service provider, you simply don’t know that your data isn’t being looked at unless you take steps to protect it.

Read moreHow safe is iCloud?

If I Use a Cloud Sync Program to Back Up, Won’t Accidental Deletions Delete the Backup?

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You recommended backing up with online programs including Skydrive, Google Drive, etc. but these sync all the computers on the system. Can you not then lose files that get accidentally deleted? I used to back up my copy to another networked computer, but fear that now I may lose info on all of them if something does me in on one. I didn’t notice any discussion of this in Backing Up: 101. I’ve been following your newsletter for years and appreciate it. I only wish I had time to read more.

You are correct. With the way that your backup is set up, you could lose files, but there are a couple of safety nets and at least one clarification.

To begin with, when you use a file syncing or cloud-based file-sharing service like Google Drive, Dropbox, or SkyDrive, you need to remember that they should be part of an overall backup strategy.

Read moreIf I Use a Cloud Sync Program to Back Up, Won’t Accidental Deletions Delete the Backup?

Can Backups of Email Be Hacked?

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Hi, Leo. I’m an engineer in the UK. I’m interested in email security and I’ve read your stuff on email interception. I want to discuss an aspect of this (the backup of email servers) and get your view. Most articles that I come across suggest that intercepting email in transit or in flight over the wire as opposed to radio is hard to do for a hacker. It’s the end points that the hacker is most likely to attack, but my worry is that even in transit, an email is likely to pass through an intermediate email server and those servers are likely to be backed up with a backup possibly being stored off the network. Once this backup has been made, the security of the information content can then be a time independent risk. Such a backup could be read or copied who knows when in the future by who knows who. How much of a threat would you consider these backups to be?

You raise a very good point and it applies to more than just email. This is a very often-overlooked aspect of both email and more general cloud security.

Read moreCan Backups of Email Be Hacked?

Is My Information Safe in the Cloud?

This is a short question that opens up a veritable Pandora’s box of issues and considerations.

I believe that there’s a lot of misunderstanding about just what information safety means and how secure your data is and is not when you use cloud-based services.

Of course, there’s also a lot of misunderstanding about just what “cloud-based services” even means, so we’ll need to define that a little first.

Read moreIs My Information Safe in the Cloud?