Storing Data in 'The Cloud' Requires Research

By News, Dallas Morning | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 19, 2011 | Go to article overview

Storing Data in 'The Cloud' Requires Research


News, Dallas Morning, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Is it safe in the clouds?

More specifically, is it safe to store your personal data in an online vault, a practice referred to as "cloud computing"?

In a recent column, I wrote about preparing financially for a natural disaster and the need to protect your sensitive personal information. One expert I spoke with recommended people store that information online in a backup computer server.

That prompted at least one reader to ask just how secure these online backup services are.

The answer is: It depends. Like most everything else, you have to do your homework before making the leap.

The services are generally secure, said Ondrej Krehel, information security officer at Identity Theft 911, which provides identity management, identity protection services, and data risk management services for businesses.

However, he said, "we see now that anything can be breached."

An online storage service provides users with a system for the backup and storage of computer files. Your data is stored in online servers that are accessible anywhere you can get an Internet connection.

"Think of this as a mirror of what you have on your hard drive, and I get to specify what's on that mirror," Krehel said.

It's something to consider, given how the form of information has changed.

"If something happened to your house and you have some treasures that you want to be guarded, would you go out and get a bank safe- deposit box and put your treasures in the bank safe?" Krehel said. "Now everything is being digitalized, and a lot of our treasures are digitalized."

Given what can happen, "you should have a backup copy of your important computer stuff not only on site on your hard drive, on a CD or a thumb drive, but off site as well, somewhere that's far away from where you live," said Dave Robinson, vice president of marketing at Mozy, an online backup service.

"When looking at services like this," Robinson said, "you should be asking yourself, is this secure? Is this something I'm comfortable with?"

Ask whether the information you send to the backup service is encrypted and who has access to it.

At Mozy, "before the files even go anywhere, they get encrypted on your computer first," Robinson said. …

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