Here are 7 security tips to keep sensitive information safe in the cloud:
1) Create complex passwords
The best passwords are the ones that are impossible to crack – a mix of capital letters, lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Try to go for passwords that are at least 12 characters in length. Avoid recognizable words (your spouse’s first name is not the safest bet), but also patterns on the keyboard. If your password is “qwerty” or “12345”, then you better change it. Check our post about How to Create a Strong Password.
2) Use different passwords for your cloud applications
It’s not all about password strength. If you reuse the same password for all your cloud applications, both private and business-related, it jeopardizes data security and puts your company’s databases at high risk.Two-factor-authentication (2FA) adds an additional layer of protection to an already strong password. Here is how it works: After entering your password, you will be required to acknowledge a phone call, text message, or an app notification on your smartphone. With 2FA in place, your Microsoft Office 365 account is protected against unauthorized access.
3) Keep your passwords safe
The rule is simple: don’t share your passwords, don’t write them down on a piece of paper for everyone to see (you probably wouldn’t do so with your banking credentials), and don’t use the same passwords for more than one cloud application.
If you need to share your password or use a public computer, make sure that you change your password as soon as you are finished with your session.
4) Only use secure network connections
Wireless connections are convenient but they tend to be unsafe, too. Here are a few data security tips and rules to go by when working mobile:
- Avoid Bluetooth whenever possible because it has proven to be the easiest connection to break.
- Be aware that randomly chosen public Wi-Fi networks are often not much better. Use them with caution as hackers oftentimes set up such networks to gain access to your internet traffic and compromise passwords.
- Your Wi-Fi at home can also be the cause of a security breach. Make sure the passwords for your router are complex.
- There is a workaround that makes communication much more secure and protects your online privacy: VPN service. As data is encrypted before it leaves your computer, it is a good way to keep sensitive information safe and bolster your security.
5) Backup your data
Your best protection against data loss is to keep another backup next to your computer. While you could use an external hard drive to create an archive of files or a bootable backup, cloud backups are the easiest way to keep your data safe.
Ensure that important files are stored in at least two separate, easily accessible locations – on your computer, in the cloud – to not compromise data security and avoid any downtime in the event of an emergency. Microsoft Office 365 automates your backup procedures which helps you keep your data safe and restores it in the event of an emergency.
6) Only use software approved by the IT department
Only install approved software on the devices you use for work. Stay away from games or utility software that is offered as free download because those packages are frequently infected with viruses with the sole purpose of extracting critical business information and accessing sensitive client data.
7) Some more basic security hygiene tips for data security
There are several security practices you can follow to protect sensitive information in the cloud:
- Install an anti-malware app on the devices you use for work and keep it up to date to protect yourself against viruses, malware, and other harmful software.
- Use a firewall that notifies you about suspicious activity if a virus tries to infect your PC. It can also block viruses, worms, and hackers from trying to download potentially harmful apps to your PC.
- Don’t open email messages from unfamiliar senders or email attachments that you don’t recognize. Many viruses are attached to email messages and will spread as soon as you open the attachment.
- Use a pop-up blocker. Although most pop-ups are created by advertisers, they can also contain malicious or unsafe code.
- Don’t transfer data with USB flash drives. They are the easiest way to infect a computer with a malicious program. Once the USB stick is connected to your computer, it is almost impossible to stop a virus.