How safe is cloud storage?

Imagine your personal data is sitting in a data center in Kansas where strangers can see it. Now, just pretend that phrase uttered by the late, great Don LaFontaine. Does that scare you?

Seriously, there are people who back up all their data and never store anything online except spam e-mail. On the other side of the spectrum are folks who live their lives on the cloud… not just facebook and twitter but storing their entire lives on Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, or other cloud storage services. How safe is it? Let’s compare three scenarios.

Someone wants to steal your personal information.
Well, it’s clear. If you store nothing on the web, there’s nothing to steal, right? Not true. Your address is a matter of public record… and unless your home is a fortress, all it takes to get your personal data is a brick through the window. Your hard drive and data storage probably isn’t protected as well as a server farm is. Do you have top-level encryption on everything?

Someone wants to know more about you in a creepy, stalkery way.
Sure, social media makes it easy for people who want to know a lot about you to find out potentially embarrassing things. But do you think that people in the ’80s were safe from scandal? Nope! They were followed, their friends were interviewed, thieves went through their trash. It took more legwork but it was probably easier.

Someone wants to steal your money.

If you don’t bank online, no one can hack your account, right? Not true. All banks are online and that means you do bank online, unless you keep your money in a mattress. And if you do keep your money in a mattress, then it’s back to the old “brick through the window” trick to get your money quickly.

It probably doesn’t make sense to store EVERYTHING on the cloud, at least not in one place, but cloud storage is every bit as safe as storing something in your home. It’s been around for about a decade now. There have been some password hacks like the infamous Yahoo hack in 2014 where as many as 1 billion accounts were leaked, but the cloud storage servers themselves haven’t been hacked so far.

If something is really important, make copies of it and store it in multiple places. If it’s really personal, keep the only copy in a bank’s safe deposit box. And it’s still not a bad idea to write a CD, DVD, or flash drive now and again.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.