Let me ask a daft question. Do you have a free email address like Gmail or Hotmail? The fact that you are reading this online article means that you likely use the Internet on a regular basis and there is a more than ninety percent chance you have a Gmail or Outlook (Hotmail) account.
Google and Microsoft, the providers of free email, also offer free cloud storage services via Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive respectively. These services have become popular with professionals and businessmen across Africa. What's worrying is that there hasn't been a commensurate increase in cyber security awareness
as we noted in a recent article. In addition to the tips we offered to secure your personal communication online, there are specific measures that one should take to secure the integrity of files in cloud storage. Storing personal or sensitive data on Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive means that once your email account is hacked, files in cloud storage with these services can immediately be accessed.
The following are a few simple tips to secure files in cloud storage.
Don't Store Anything Sensitive
It may sound obvious but you will surprised how many people store sensitive personal data like bank information and lists of important things like passwords in cloud servers.
Use Two-Step Phone Verification
Both Google and Microsoft offer two-step verification. Two-step verification adds a second layer of security, your mobile phone, to your account. Once activated, every time you log in, a code is sent to your mobile phone via text message. You then enter this code into the login field provided. Two-step verification takes less than five minutes to setup but it can mean the difference between your account being hacked in a similar amount of time or being almost impenetrable.
Change Passwords Regularly
Make it a habit to change passwords on a regular basis. Once every two months is a good benchmark to work with. If you are in the habit of using a task manager, add "change password
" to your to-do list every so often and reset the passwords to all your cloud storage accounts - closely related to this point, check the activity log of your account(s) every time you log in. You can check Google's log by clicking on the image icon at the top right corner of your Google Drive account, click on Account >Recent Activity > View all events. Alternatively, switch to Gmail (if enabled for your account), scroll to the bottom of your account and clicking on "Details" at the bottom right hand corner. Check to see if there is any unfamiliar activity. If for example, you live in Zambia and you find an event entry for a login from China, you should immediately assume your account has been hacked and change passwords immediately. This is of course assuming you haven't been using a virtual private server or proxy outside your country. In OneDrive, click on the image icon at the top right corner and in the left hand binder, click on "Recent activity
Encrypt Your Files
File encryption is the ultimate way to secure files in cloud storage. There are several free applications that you can use to encrypt the files on your computer before syncing them with your Drive or OneDrive account, these include; BoxCryptor