More methods and places are becoming available to store our data and this trend is not really showing any signs of slowing down. It seems as though with every step forward into the future we take as an interconnected online community, we must take a few extra cautionary steps to ensure its success.

The latest trend being brought to the forefront of our curious consciousness is cloud technology and its seemingly vast nature of unlimited space for storage. Many cloud data storage options are free, which is clearly attractive to the masses, but the risks are also present.

To help you take advantage of cloud data storage while minimising your risk of it being hacked or otherwise compromised, we’ve laid out five steps you can take to ensure your privacy is maintained and your information remains secure:

1. Use Encrypted Cloud Services

If you feel apprehensive about placing your important company or personal data on the web, then you’ve likely been taught well on how to navigate the internet, or worse, you’ve fallen victim to it. One way to ensure safe cloud storage is to be picky with your cloud provider and select one that encrypts your data locally.

While this process may take longer than an unencrypted method, it’s for good reason. This method goes as far as shielding access to your information from those who work at the service provider. A super bonus would be if this encryption also extends to the uploading and retrieval process.

2. Practice Local Backups

One of the cardinal rules that any online expert will tell you is that you should store your data in at least two places. Should the initial copy of your information be compromised somehow, it’s always advised to have another hard copy in a reliable location. As it’s not expected for cloud databases to crash or suddenly become available, you should always duplicate and keep your information on an external hard drive within reach.

3. Read the Fine Print

As you should do with every type of program that you download onto your hardware, reading between the lines of the Terms and Conditions can prevent you from making a major mistake in your data storage.

Typically, tricky wording can cause you to give up your rights unintentionally when programs sound too good to be true (and/or free).

For data storage programs specifically, some providers aim to share your information with advertisers or like-minded partners without you knowledge. If you can speak to a representative at the company or research the provider online, it would serve as a great benefit so you’re aware of what you’re getting into before it’s too late.

4. Backup Your Password (2-Step Verification)

In past posts, we’ve discussed the importance of having a strong password whenever necessary, and the same goes for your online storage. One overlooked tip is to not use the same exact password on multiple platforms, as one successful hack can wreak havoc on your online accounts.

If possible, use the two-step method which forces users to log into an email account, then enter a password. Google offers this option to strengthen the security of your accounts and deter hackers from attempting your account.

5. Monitor Your Online Browsing

Due to the fact that you’re storing you information on an online resource with the cloud, this means that your online behavior should mirror that fact. Common practices that you may normally use on your personal computer shouldn’t be done on a device that has access to confidential or important data.

Logging into hotspots, opting-in to remember my password and clicking on questionable links are all signs of careless behavior that a hacker looks for when seeking to cause damage. Remember to always practice smart surfing methods on the devices that hold your most important information to not tempt a cyber criminal to harm you, your customers or you organisation.