by April Miller, Senior Writer, ReHack Magazine
Backups are an excellent idea for anyone with data they don’t want to lose. Cybercrime complaints grew 69% between 2019 and 2020, and these attacks show no signs of slowing. Backups make these hacks less severe by ensuring that if something happens to one copy, you can still access another.
Online backup services are a popular way to protect your files, but some people are worried about their security. Here’s a closer look at online backup security to help you make a more informed decision.
Benefits of Online Backups
Online backup services have many security advantages. Storing backups on the cloud protects your data against physical threats like theft, fire or water damage. Someone can steal or destroy a physical hard drive, but an online backup is resistant to these dangers.
Another benefit of online backups is that you can access them from anywhere, even if your computer’s hard drive fails. Since drive failure rates soar to 11.8% per year after just three years of use, a nonphysical form of storage becomes increasingly necessary. Plus, these services ensure your data has the latest protections, whereas physical devices can become outdated and cost more to upgrade.
When you use an online backup service, you also let IT experts handle the technical side of things. You can enjoy high-tech security measures that you may not be able to afford or manage on your own.
Security Concerns With Online Backups
While online backup services have several benefits, they do carry some concerns as well. Since these services manage many people’s potentially sensitive data, they may be an enticing target for hackers. Even leading cloud storage providers have suffered breaches, like the infamous Dropbox hack that affected 68 million users.
More recently, an investigation found a breached database belonging to SOS Online Backup, potentially exposing 135 million records. This could’ve been something as simple as a user error from an employee. Just because experts run these services doesn’t mean they can’t make risky mistakes sometimes.
Some online backup services may also give you a false sense of security. They may require extra steps to ensure your data is completely safe but don’t advertise this well. As a result, your files could be vulnerable without you knowing it.
What to Look for in an Online Backup Service
If you decide to use an online backup service, you should look for features that make them more secure. One of the most important is encryption, which scrambles your data, making it effectively useless to hackers. Ideally, a backup service will offer at-rest and in-transit encryption, protecting your files whether they’re sitting still or moving.
You should also look for a backup service with multiple servers spread across various locations. Some call this geo-redundant storage, and it will keep your data safe if something happens to one of its servers.
Look into an online backup service’s history. Repeated or particularly notable data breaches in their past may be a reason not to go with it. If it has experienced a breach or two, make sure it has since taken steps to improve security.
Additional Security Steps
Most online backup services are fairly secure in the end. Still, you can take a few additional steps to improve your security. Here are a few of the most important ones:
Use a strong password for your account that you don’t use on any others.
Turn on multifactor authentication, which can prevent 99.9% of account compromise attacks, according to Microsoft.
Make offline backups in addition to your online ones. If something happens to one, you’ll still have the other.
If encryption is optional with your online backup service, turn it on.
Backup Your Data Safely
Stories about data breaches and hacking are in the news seemingly every day. They can make you feel unsafe, but you don’t have to worry about your information’s security when you take these steps and use a reliable service.
Every storage solution has its benefits and downsides. Knowing what these are and how to address them can ensure you get the best security possible.
About the Author
April Miller is a managing editor of cybersecurity at ReHack Magazine. Her goal as a writer is to make technology topics accessible for consumers while emphasizing the importance of following security best practices.
You can reach April by contacting ReHack.com or following @rehackmagazine on Twitter.