Cloud computing is taking over both personal and business data storage. A report from Forrester Research predicts the cloud market will grow nearly six times its current market of more than $40 billion to $241 billion by 2020. Despite the growing market, concerns about identity theft are prevalent — especially when your data isn’t hosted on your own server. While there’s no fool-proof method to protect against data theft, there are ways to ensure you or your business take precautions when moving to the cloud. Here’s what to watch for:
Identity theft protection
Identity theft is the most prevalent consumer complaint reported to the Federal Trade Commission, affecting about five percent of the population, according to the Bureau of Justice. It can happen through something as simple as dumpster diving for important documents, to something electronic, such as a file sharing breach. And, Javelin Strategy & Research reports, in 2011, identity fraud rose by 13 percent.
Because of the abundance of online interactions you have, you’re sharing a variety of information, from online purchases you make, to the type of information you share on social networks. There are identity theft services dedicated to protecting digital identities that will scan the web to detect when your information is being used and alert you to transactions — and pay legal fees if identity theft occurs. Lifelock, one such provider of these services, tells potential customers to be aware of risky identity theft situations including peer-to-peer file sharing, phishing (email or chat fraud), online shopping, and data breaches. Data breaches, where a thief either steals precious information stored on hard drives or local servers, make the cloud attractive, since you’re storing data on a secure server. But, because hacks aren’t 100 percent preventable, there are some important factors to consider when moving to the cloud.
What to look for in a cloud storage
It can be difficult to trust storing your data in a foreign location controlled by a foreign company, so it’s wise to inquire about the security measures your cloud provider contains. When choosing a cloud service, look for one with bank-level security, one that has secure transfer using industry-standard protocols, one with end-to-end data encryption, one that has access control, and one that has data separation, according to Blog.cx.com.
Also, consider the reliability and reputation of the provider, as well as what the support team looks like. You need to examine the service-level agreement for the duration of expected uptime, and look for dedicated security teams making regular security updates, or consider employing a security-as-a-service team for outsource network security management, reported cloud computing consultant Charles Smith.
Just as security is important to examine for your own cloud services also be mindful of the security of businesses you store data with, such as banks and hospitals, as well as the services they use for backup. Data breach spending continues to climb at a rapid rate, with CNN reporting businesses have spent triple the amount in 2011 versus 2006. Multiple backups for data are imperative, but only if they’re secure, as well.