CyberScout

Security Risks of Storing Personal Information in the Cloud

Security Risks of Storing Personal Information in the Cloud

With more consumers using cloud services to upload pictures, documents and more, cybercriminals are infiltrating cloud accounts to steal valuable information. Hackers managed to access sensitive photos from celebrities' personal iCloud accounts and shared them with other Internet users, CBS News reported. While cloud services like iCloud and other storage apps are used to store content to be easily accessed from other electronic devices, the latest data breach has stoked fears about the security of the cloud.

Technology experts believe the attack happened over time, allowing hackers to collect photos over months or years, according to CBS News. To gain access to celebrities' cloud accounts, the thieves used a hacking tool to input various passwords to finally crack the code. Apple raced to patch the iCloud security flaw that resulted in the data breach of Hollywood celebrities' pictures. Despite the quick fix, the attack on various movie stars raised the question of whether cloud services are adequately protected.

Challenges of Cloud Security
It's not just high-profile movie stars who have to worry about security defects that could expose sensitive information. Businesses that choose to upload confidential documents to the cloud to collaborate on projects or share information can also be at risk for cyberattacks. Cloud management firm RightScale surveyed more than 1,000 IT professionals and found 94 percent of organizations use cloud services, according to the 2014 State of the Cloud Survey. Of these professionals, 58 percent use public and private clouds, 29 percent access public clouds only and 7 percent utilize private clouds only. 

Some organizations believe a security strategy with both private and public clouds is key to optimize the benefits of the cloud. However, many new users of these services may have trouble with securing the cloud as 31 percent of cloud beginners said they saw cloud security as a big obstacle, according to the RightScale survey. Concerns over cloud defenses made security the No. 1 challenge associated with managing the cloud. 

Strong Passwords Key to Prevent Cloud Hacks
As personal and business users of cloud services continue to incorporate this technology into their lives, they should consider how they can defend against future attacks. Since hackers in the celebrity photo scandal used hacking tools to guess passwords, users should make sure to create passwords that are hard to decipher, according to ZDNet. Users have a better chance of guarding their cloud accounts with passwords that are a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and special characters. 

Cloud users can also protect their accounts with two-factor authentication, which will not only require them to enter in a password, but also send a message to an email inbox or phone number to verify they are the owner of the account.

By increasing the security of their cloud accounts, cloud users can also protect their privacy.