Cloud-based services, aka services that store your information on a server as opposed to your own hard drive, have been embraced by individuals and business users alike.
Everything from banking apps, email and even social media accounts are now all accessible via the Cloud on multiple devices with nothing more than an internet connection, which means we’re able to enjoy a greater range of services than ever before.
However, cloud accounts require passwords to restrict user access, and with so many accounts to keep track of, it’s tempting to use the same run-of-the-mill passwords for multiple services. It might be a very convenient way of doing things (after all, you need to be able to remember your logins), but by sticking to what you know, you’re increasing your vulnerability online and compromising the security of your cloud data.
Here, we take a look at how you can improve your cloud password security to reduce the risk of data or identity theft.
Create strong, secure passwords
The first step to cloud security is creating a strong password that’s difficult to crack.
Old habits die hard, and it can be tempting to use a trusty, easy-to-guess password every time you set up an account with a new cloud provider. The key to staying safe in the Cloud, though, is to make your passwords as complicated and unpredictable as possible.
Avoid repeated numbers or sequences (the old stalwarts ‘12345’ and ‘qwerty’ are the main offenders here); steer clear of birthdays, anniversary dates and any other sequences that could be a successful stab in the dark for hackers. Experts are telling us that it’s not even enough to replace letters with numbers (and vice versa). To keep your data well way from prying eyes, you need to throw in random combinations of signs and symbols that have no logical relation to each other.
Of course, it’s also important that you don’t tell anyone your password, even if you trust them!
Avoid using the same logins for different cloud services
Having grown up with computers, Generation Y will be all too familiar with this mantra: don’t use the same password for different websites. But this is much easier said than done, particularly for those who manage dozens if not hundreds of different accounts.
An Ofcom study from 2013 found that 55% of 1805 adults over the age of 16 used the same password for most, if not all, of their web accounts. Taking such a lax approach towards password security is producing a whole new world of opportunities for cybercriminals and identity thieves, so don’t expose yourself to hackers – make sure you come up with strong, unique passwords for every single one of your accounts.
Keeping track of passwords using the Cloud
We can hear you sigh from here – don’t worry, we know it’s virtually impossible to remember so many random password combinations. Help is at hand. You can store and track your ever-growing list of unique passwords using an online password manager, or a password ‘vault’.
A password manager won’t shield you against high-level security threats, but it will help you secure your identity and come up with more complex password combinations. In fact, many of these handy little apps will even generate a new password for you – bonus!
Cloud-based password managers like KeePass, Lastpass, Dashlane, my1login and Norton Identity Safe lock away all of your logins in one central, secure location. You only need to remember one password to access all of your passwords, and many of the most popular password management services even allow you to synchronise your information across multiple browsers and devices and complete login forms in just one single click. If you’ve been storing your passwords in your web browsers up until now, you’ll be pleased to know that most of these tools will import all of this information for you, saving you even more time.
So there you have it – by making a few small changes to the way you create and manage your passwords, you really can catch out those nasty hackers and dramatically improve your cloud security!
Gary Gould is the Co-Founder of Compare Cloudware, one of the leading cloudware comparisons websites. Gary wants to help small business owners and start-ups to enter the world of cloud computing that will help them grow, including cloud-based financial tools, project management and CRM.