Every day, more of our data finds a home in the cloud. From music to photos to business documents, cloud computing offers speedy access to our most coveted files whether we’re in the office, at home, or on-the-go.
But should we really store all of our data in the cloud? Might security concerns prompt us to avoid making certain information available over a network?
The answer is yes. While the cloud may be a convenient way to access data, there are some things that are better off stored locally – or not stored on a computer at all. Here are five types of data you should keep out of the cloud lest some malevolent hacker gain access to them.
1. Credit cards and bank information
Yes, storing your credit card number, security code, and 4-digit PIN (for those “emergency” cash advances) in the cloud makes it easy to get at that information when you need it most.
But you shouldn’t put it there. Ever. Because even the most secure cloud storage providers can’t guarantee 100% security for your data. If the system gets hacked, you’re no longer in control of your financial info. The criminals are.
You should also avoid storing bank account and routing numbers in the cloud. If a hacker gets ahold of your bank account or debit card info, the consequences could be even worse than if he or she had access to your credit card number.
With a credit card, you can at least refuse to pay for any fraudulent charges. But direct debits from your bank account are done deal – and they can bankrupt you in a heartbeat.
2. Medical history
Putting scans of your x-rays, copies of prescriptions, and other medical information in your Dropbox may be convenient at times, but this, too, is something you should avoid at all costs.
Remember: Your medical history is a covenant between you and your doctor. What if that information was stolen and published online for others to see? Not only would your privacy be compromised, but you could have a hard time finding health insurance in the future or face higher premiums than you’re able to pay.
3. Personally identifiable information
Having your credit card information stolen is one thing – you can dispute any false charges and avoid paying them – but having your social security or tax ID number stolen is different problem altogether.
The bottom line is that identity theft is a serious threat to your long-term financial health. Storing personally identifiable information in the cloud is like an open invitation to digital con artists who would love nothing more than to “be” you.
Until they’ve spent all your money, that is.
Personally identifying information like ID numbers can be a gateway to lots of things: bank accounts, medical records, credit cards, stock portfolios, and even your children’s financial information. Store this data in the cloud at your peril.
4. Legal documentation
For much the same reason you wouldn’t store your medical history in the cloud, legal documents have no business being there either.
If intercepted by a third party, files dealing with potential litigation could compromise the integrity of a claim you’re trying to make. And remember that any information you share with your lawyer is between the two of you only.
Ok, this one might be controversial. Cloud-based password storage apps are becoming quite popular. But Lastpass, one of the most well-known of the lot, was hacked in 2012, and users’ security was compromised. Do you want to be one of those whose passwords get stolen the next time it happens?
Didn’t think so. As an alternative, try a non-cloud-based password manager. Some of them even let you store bank account and credit card information – safely, mind you – alongside your passwords. It sure beats storing them in a spreadsheet.
And while you shouldn’t discount the cloud as a great way to store and access many types of data, just be aware of its limitations. Some things are better kept elsewhere, even if it means sacrificing a little convenience.
Author Bio:- Aidan Grayson writes about data security, IT issues, and enterprise cloud backup technologies for businesses and consumers. In spite of his cautionary security-related bloggings, he still stores a lot of data in the cloud.