So, Evernote has been hacked. We hear those stories all the time, right? “Oh no, (insert your favorite cloud service here) has been hacked”.
That is of course very bad news, especially if you (like me) live and breathe the cloud and all it’s fabulous tools, like Dropbox, like Evernote, like Google Drive or any other service that stores, syncs or manages your files remotely so that you can have access to your files where ever you are and leverage the power of the cloud.
The Cloud Is Dead – Long Live the Cloud!
This is the time when many people on the Internet start to scream about the dangers of the cloud and that we all should go back to the roots, storing our files locally on our machines. While that might be true you should not forget that cloud storage is a tool. And a tool is only as good as the person handling it.
It can have the best features in world, if not used properly it can pose a danger not only to the tool owner but also to the people around him. In terms of the cloud I want to make the following point: you need to use cloud storage as a tool and you have to use it with care. But what does “using cloud storage carefully” mean? Let’s explore some of the options here.
Think About What You Store in The Cloud
This might seem obvious but there is no need to store anything and everything in the cloud. Do you really need to store and Excel spreadsheet with all your important banking information with ? I don’t think so. Especially, when storing sensitive information regarding your personal or business life – you need to be careful with that tool called cloud storage.
Yes, it’s true that those services ALL suggest that they are secure, easy to use and will revolutionize your life because it is their business. They make money off of our data (of course by storing – not by selling it), we are the product so to speak, especially if we use the popular “too good to be true” versions. Now, I don’t say, don’t use free versions (I’d be the last to say that) but use them (again) with care. think, before uploading anything to a server that is not yours.
Encrypt Your Files
One of the best ways to store your files in the cloud is file encryption. There are great tools out there that help you encrypt your files before sending them off to Dropbox (granted, this is quite difficult with Evernote). Boxcryptor is one of those easy to use tools that will add another security layer to your files in the cloud. The problem with Evernote is, it is not possible to really encrypt your files properly.
Yes, your transfers are encrypted via SSL but if your password and email address is compromised (as just happened) this isn’t worth a dime. In order to be safe you need to encrypt your files locally, on your machine before sending them out. You need to be aware that some cloud storage service DO NOT offer that feature.
Manage Your Passwords Properly
This is a topic where many people just outright fail. They might encrypt their files but they don’t use proper passwords that protect their digital identities. There are two common scenarios for bad password use:
Using Weak Passwords
Many people use weak password like ‘123456’ or ‘candyman’ or ‘qwerty’. Those passwords are all easily guessable or hackable because they form part of enormous password libraries hackers use to brute-force their way into your account.
That means they run a list of the most commonly used passwords through a program and try out all the possible combinations until one sticks.
Using The Same Password for Everything
I can’t tell how many people do this. My less technically minded friends, my family, even some of my colleagues: they use the same password for Facebook, Linkedin, Gmail and whatnot. That is dangerous because if one password is compromised hackers will automatically use it for all those popular services you love to use. Because you’re not the only one who uses them.
The conclusion is to use a password management program. There are plenty of alternatives out there: the open-source manager KeePass or the commercially available 1Password. Both services create alphanumerical password automatically and store them into a database so that you don’t have to remember all those created passwords. You only need one (secure) master password that opens your central database.
So, What Does This Tell Us About the Cloud? The cloud is great. I couldn’t live without it. But one has to be conscious about the implied dangers that come with transferring your personal files over the Internet to some unknown service provider.
Make sure you understand what it means to use services that DON’T encrypt your files, like Evernote. Make sure, you use good passwords and encrypt your most important files when using Dropbox or other cloud storage services. Make sure you check out our cloud storage price comparison, to get the best service for your needs.