#CyberAware Tip: There is No Cloud, Only Someone Else’s Computer

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All October as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), we’re sharing cybersecurity tips from the people who live and breathe it—ESET employees. This tip comes from ESET BusinessSupport Agent Drew Dodson.

The cloud sounds like a great place—heavenly, even—to store data. It inhabits a different realm at a remove from terrestrial threats, floating above our vulnerable, hyper-connected world.

But here’s something that gets lost in the celestial semantics: There is no cloud. Only someone else’s computer.

Cloud computing, by definition, means using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer. The servers may be remote from your PC, that is, but ultimately they have a location… just like your computer. The question is: How secure is that location?

iCloud users like actress Jennifer Lawrence got an unpleasant answer to that last year when hundreds of private pictures stored there, including some of hers, were posted online.

When you’re backing up your data in the cloud, you’re putting your data on a computer you have no control over. What are the data deletion/retention, backup, encryption and overall protection policies? Do they support two-factor authentication? (Here’s what two-factor is.) Do they notify if there has been a breach? These are questions you should ask when choosing an online backup solution.

The standard in the IT world is the 3-2-1 rule of backups: Keep at least three copies of your data, on two different media, with one copy at a different location.

As for me, I don’t have any cloud backups. I prefer keeping my data of this world—and under my control.

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ESET is proud to champion National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. Learn what ESET’s doing for NCSAM and how you can get involved.