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How to pick the right cloud storage service

Paul Mah | Nov. 11, 2016
Many cloud storage options are available to businesses and consumers today, but one size does not fit all. This cloud storage guide includes tips to help you get started.

However, the real threat comes from skilled hackers who want to crack cloud storage services, because their vast pools of data make them appealing targets. In such a situation, whether or not those companies encrypt data at rest is irrelevant, because the associated decryption keys would necessarily be stored by the same cloud provider and could also be stolen in a breach.

Platform-wide attacks aside, you can thwart hackers that try to target you individually. Two-factor authentication can help protect against brute-force attacks, but even when it's available it is often disabled by default. Two-factor authentication systems send one-time-passwords via text message or an app that can be used together with your password to add a layer of security.

You could also choose to encrypt data before you upload it to the cloud, but such an approach would limit many of the benefits of cloud storage. Services such as SpiderOak One aim to ease that process with desktop apps that automatically encrypt data as it's uploaded and decrypts when downloaded, so the data would never be available to the cloud provider.


SpiderOak One on the desktop encrypts data before uploading, so cloud storage providers have no visibility into the data.

Access to details on recent login attempts could help alert you to digital break-in attempts, and such access logs can also play a crucial role in determining the extent of a data breach after the fact.

Getting serious with cloud storage

If you rely on cloud storage for work, you may want to explore business-centric options. While more expensive, such services come with advanced tools that let you manage multiple cloud offerings from a single administrative console, monitor use across an entire organization and enforce specific settings, such as two-factor authentication.

Depending on the provider, collaboration capabilities may also be available, including folders that can be shared with specific team members, alerts for file modifications and the ability to add comments to files.


Dropbox for Business lets users enforce settings, such as two-step verification.

Services that track file changes can typically also generate audit reports with detailed logs of file modifications and information on the people and devices that access them. Administrators can suspend user accounts when employees leave to ensure that important files aren't deleted, or transfer permissions to others when responsibilities change.

Users can generate detailed reports based on specific criteria with Egnyte.

Some cloud storage services integrate with other third-party services and apps. Dropbox and Microsoft, for example, have an arrangement that lets users open Microsoft Office files from within the Dropbox app, and they can also access documents stored in Dropbox using Microsoft Online services.


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