Protect yourself when using cloud services

In simplest terms, cloud computing is a subscription-based or free service where you can obtain networked storage space and other computer resources through an Internet access. There are many personal uses for cloud storage such as music or video storage, long term or sensitive file storage, or just more processing power for editing all those home movies. While these systems may remove the need for owning physical components, they also introduce new risks to your information. Before you use the cloud, make sure you take the appropriate steps to protect yourself.

  • Know your needs. Before you start, make sure you carefully plan what your security and privacy needs are. This includes knowing what how sensitive your data is and what could happen if someone malicious was able to get a hold of it. Example: Are you storing Grandma’s recipes or your tax information for the past several years.
  • Read the contracts. End User License Agreements and Service Level Agreements are important because they describe the terms and conditions of the cloud service. If you're not sure of what they do or do not provide, contact the provider to clarify the services. This can also include what kind of responsibility they are willing to take or expectations you should have on their security.
  • Protect Your Machine. Enable your firewall, use anti-virus/malware and anti-spyware software.
  • Protect your data. Don't store unencrypted sensitive information in the cloud. You don't know with whom you're sharing the cloud!

Security tips are brought to you by the CTS SOC. The mission of the CTS SOC is to provide centralized information sharing, monitoring, and analysis of Washington State security posture. Contact us at: soc@cts.wa.gov.