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3 ‘tips’ to increase your security in the cloud

It was in the summer of 2014 when the Internet users around the world suddenly realised that their data online were not immune to risks. Risqué photos of Rihanna, Kate Upton, Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson, Kirsten Dunst and other celebrities, began to circulate through the network completely unopposed. Taking advantage of a hole in the security system of Apple passwords, the hackers had gained access to private files stored in the Cupertino company iCloud service, to seize and disseminate such images on the Internet.

It was not the first time. In 2011 Scarlett Johansson was thrust in the worldwide media about selfies that had been done in her bathroom. It was by no means the only case. Just a month and a half later the same thing happened again: More stolen public photos emerged from the “cloud” of celebrities. In total sixty were affected, according to the list published by Daily Dot.

The fact is that this has cast doubt on the safety of the service from Apple, although there were those who insinuated it was all a publicity stunt. Either way, we now know for sure that if we decide to have the cloud, we have to take security measures to prevent our sensitive data (bank account number, private email, phone numbers etc.) ending up in the hands of digital criminals.

But is it possible to protect a hack? Before this is answered, we have to take a step back, because it can be dangerous to take things for granted. When a file is put on the net, there are certain issues that must be considered. A huge number of people use the cloud to store their files – in 2012, 86% of companies used it, according to a study by VB News – and had access to them at any time, without overloading their hard disk.

This is an amazing system, especially if we consider that the cloud services usually provide sufficient protection. Whenever you deliver a document or a photo to iCloud, to the Drive or Dropbox, however, we must note that we are raising our data to a server, i.e. a computer. Unfortunately, security systems are not insurmountable, and the criminals are always on the lookout, prepared to take advantage of minor faults.

How to protect yourself, then? Is it possible to prevent the risk of someone else taking your documents? The obligatory premise is that nobody and nothing can be absolutely sure if you surf the net, although we can do something to minimise risks. Here are some simple rules that let you gain a level of digital security.

• Encrypt your files

Rule number one – cloud security: Always protect your data using complex passwords, as these are difficult to guess. If your data storage service offers authentication options, use it; if it has two-factor authentication, even better. If you have available locally encryption, please use it.

• If you do not want to share it … do not put it up!

Rule number two – ask yourself before you save a file to the cloud: If it was a paper document, would you give it to a stranger, or in an envelope? If the answer is “no”, you know what you have to do with the pin of the bank account, for example. Be extra vigilant about what you are releasing into the cloud, just in case and if it is too sensitive, then perhaps it isn`t the best idea sharing it.

• Always close your session

The third and last part relates to your behaviour when you turn off the computer. It is not enough to close the browser, because the session can remain open for the next user to view. You have to log out using the “Exit”, “close” or “logout” buttons, especially if used on a shared computer, and in this specific case, it is better to clear the cache and chronology too.