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Secure your cloud storage

If you’ve been reading all these tech articles, you’ll notice a trend with the cloud, security, and data backup. There’s a huge importance placed on each one of these topics, and for good reason.
secure your cloud storage nov 2015
Zero knowledge cloud storage service providers enable you to encrypt your files so their contents are not viewable by the provider or third parties like government security organizations.

If you’ve been reading all these tech articles, you’ll notice a trend with the cloud, security, and data backup. There’s a huge importance placed on each one of these topics, and for good reason.

With the increasing size of files and Internet speed combined, we’re finding traditional mainstays such as emailing files to each other outdated. Thus came the advent of cloud storage. Cloud storage providers such as Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive and Apple iCloud, to name a few, have all claimed a portion of this space.

However, not all of them are very secure. These companies claim they encrypt the data on their end, but the biggest caveats with this model are that they have access to your data because they control the encryption, and they’re susceptible to data inspections as requested by the law. After the notorious data security controversy with the NSA (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/the-nsa-files), it’s hard to feel like anyone can trust their government these days.

With that said, how can you secure your cloud storage from the prying eyes of a nation’s leadership, many of whom have been proven time and time again in recent years to take liberties with the law when it comes to personal security versus national security?

The first thing you can do is use a cloud storage provider with a feature called zero knowledge. What that means is they still encrypt the data on their servers, but you are the one who holds the encryption keys. Without the keys, all they see is encrypted data, which would take years to decrypt even if they used the most powerful computers in the world. The caveat with this is if you forget your password, you (and everybody else, thankfully) are essentially locked out of your account and your data.

There are two very excellent providers on the market as of this writing. SpiderOak (spideroak.com) is a very popular choice. They provide zero knowledge encryption and 2 GB of free storage. Plans start at $7/month for 30 GB and their 1 TB plan is only $12/month. I tested their solution out for a few months, and the only issues I had with their service were clunky desktop and mobile apps. It’s also difficult to share files to people, but convenience is something one has to relinquish in order to gain this level of security.

Sync.com is a newcomer to zero knowledge cloud storage, and it may be of interest to you that they are Canadian owned and operated. You start with 5 GB of free storage with the ability to earn an extra 1 GB of extra space for each new person you refer who signs up for a free or pro account. They offer 500 GB a year for only $49, and a whopping 2 TB for $98 a year. They tout themselves as a “secure Dropbox replacement”, and while it’s not perfect, they come quite close. An added feature to note is 2FA (two-factor authentication), which means you have to provide a 60-second code from your phone when you log in, which means you don’t have to worry too much about making a super secure password.

That said, it’s still very highly recommended that you create strong passwords as per the previous article, “Your personal security is based on habits, not software.” Once that’s done, make sure to follow the best practices and enable 2FA as well.

Our digital lives are a huge part of our physical lives, whether we want it to be or not. It’s not just about technology and the Internet, but the relationship between them and how they complement our lives. We are more interconnected today than ever before, and we all need to take steps to protect our digital footprint just as much as our tangible impact on the world around us.

For example, a celebrity used to be perceived by fans based on what they said or did in public, but now they’re adored or persecuted for what they post on Twitter. This is the current reality in which we live.

What’s keeping you from taking the necessary steps to make your cloud storage for your eyes only?

Yawhann Chong is a born and raised Thompson resident with various skills in media arts and technology. He worked for a decade in corporate IT and acts as a technology evangelist to friends and family. Most of his free time is spent as a freelance copywriter, photographer, filmmaker, and author. You can check out his blogs at YawhannChong.com and ChickenBall.com, and his portfolio at ZhangYaohan.com.