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5 Tips to Keep Your Data Secure on the Cloud

By Victoria Ivey, CIO
December 16, 2013 05:36 PM ET

CIO - The number of personal cloud users increases every year and is not about to slow down. Back in 2012 Gartner predicted the complete shift from offline PC work to mostly on-cloud by 2014. And it's happening.

Today, we rarely choose to send a bunch of photos by email, we no longer use USB flash drives to carry docs. The cloud has become a place where everyone meets and exchanges information. Moreover, it has become a place where data is being kept permanently.

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We trust the cloud more and more. Now even our documents from the bank, ID scans and confidential business papers work find their new residence on the cloud. But can you be sure your information is safe and secure out there?

Actually, for the time being you cannot. Data privacy legislation proceeds in a tempo that is unable to keep up with the speed of technology progress. Just take a look on how countries or regions deal with legal issues concerning data privacy on the cloud.

You'll hardly find any universal rules or laws that could be applicable to any user and any cloud service irrespective of geographical boundaries or residence. Today's legislature in the area of information privacy consists of plenty of declarations, proposals and roadmaps most of which are not legally binding.

Cloud Security Issues Span the Globe

Information privacy on the 'Net presents a problem for law makers all over the world. All legislative process stumbles over several issues. First, there's transborder data flow. Some countries are successful in regulating privacy issues of the data stored on the servers within the country, but they usually avoid transborder data flow regulation.

The most popular data storage servers are in the United States, but people who use them come from different countries all over the world, and so does their data. It remains unclear which laws of which country regulate that data privacy while it flows from the sender to the server.

Another problem is defining who, and under which circumstances, can gain legal permission to access data stored on the cloud. Users believe that their information isconfidential and protected from everyone just because it belongs to them and is their property. But they often forget that the space where they store it (namely the Internet) is not actually theirs and it functions by its own rules (or no rules). Therefore, you may still have to give up your data if one day state authorities ask for it.

But even if the law happens to be applicable to your situation and is on your side you still don't want to spend your time and effort later in the court proving how right you are, do you? So with all that legal uncertainty you simply have no choice but to take control and be responsible for your own data.

Here are five data privacy protection tips to help you tackle the issue of cloud privacy:

1. Avoid storing sensitive information in the cloud.

Many recommendations across the 'Net sound like this: "Don't keep your information on the cloud." Fair enough, but it's the same as if you asked, "How not to get my house burned down?" and the answer would be, "Do not have a house." The logic is solid, but a better way to translate such advice is, "avoid storing sensitive information on the cloud." So if you have a choice you should opt for keeping your crucial information away from virtual world or use appropriate solutions.

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