Free – But is it Secure?
Cloud storage is a popular topic for many people, both commercial and private, and even financial institutions are looking towards solutions as a way to reduce costs while increasing the reliability of confidential and critical information. But, as with all great opportunities, there is risk involved. There are many services offering free storage space, but the question remains: are they secure from prying eyes, even their own?
The first issue with free cloud space is the user will never be sure what level of security a provider is using to secure the user’s data. Also, it should be noted that some providers of free space do not guarantee return of data or user ownership once service is terminated; in addition, data location is not guaranteed either, meaning it could be located on a service anywhere outside of the United States.
There is, also, significant risk when sensitive data is placed in these free cloud services and are subject to potential breach, since monitoring and preventing this is very difficult. There was an instance with Dropbox in August 2012, during which users’ passwords were stolen and their accounts accessed, before sending users unsolicited emails. Also, usernames and passwords were hacked from other sites which were then used to sign into some Dropbox accounts. But apart from that, Dropbox remains a major player in the world of online cloud storage and it currently offers major competition for other brands like Microsoft’s OneDrive and Crashplan.
However, paid storage sites, such as Carbonite and CrashPlan, which are arguably the largest names in online backup, offer backup solutions for both Windows and Mac. Carbonite is a simple install and use program and charges $59.99/year to backup all user generated content on their computer. Additionally, there is the $99.99/year per computer plan that allows a user to back up their external hard drive and create a mirror image backup of the entire system. Paid solutions are often more reliable as their security is quite complex and this will help to protect your valuable data.
CrashPlan, on the hand, provides more flexibility to users than Carbonite in the choosing of where back up files will be located. Users can choose to either back up to local devices, meaning another computer in their home or even office network, or an external hard disk, or choose a friend’s machine, even any machine on another network, for free. Their third option is to use CrashPlan’s remote servers; they vendor places no limits on data or bandwidth. This service provides the ability to choose back up intervals, such as scheduled or continuous, as well as support for Mac and Linux systems, along with unlimited file versioning and restore options for deleted file options.