Call Us: 951.676.6555

Keeping Your Data Safe

Nancy Maier, Office Manager

Keeping Your Data Safe

What is the cloud? Many people have asked this question, but few seem to know the answer. The cloud is a remote server-based storage system housed by large companies in a secure location or regional data center run by third-party technology companies. In short, it is to be used instead of a local storage unit, i.e. computer or external hard drive. The cloud allows you the benefit of accessing programs and files through a website wherever you have internet access. While the thought of having your data stored offsite and accessed by a website may make you question the security of the cloud, rest assured, the cloud is actually much more secure than local storage.

When you upload or download files to your cloud storage, the data is encrypted in both storage and transfer so should the data be captured by a hacker, the information obtained would read like gibberish. Other benefits of using the cloud are reduced local storage requirements (and associated costs) and the ability to use various devices as access points including computers, tablets, or even smartphones.

Many cloud service providers are available to the general public. Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive and iCloud are popular favorites. In addition to storing your files on a remote server, we also recommend using an encryption service to email or share files securely. Our office uses a program call SafeSend which allows us to email the recipient a computer generated link with a two-factor authentication feature to access the file. SafeSend is also great because there is essentially no limit on the file size – so no more zip files or those annoying mailbox over size limit messages.

If the phrase “Data Breach” makes you queasy, you should know the most devastating breaches all occurred within individual companies and not a public cloud-based server. You have a much greater risk of losing your data on a local drive than you do in the cloud. The biggest concern in cloud storage is losing data – with the risk only being a fraction of a percent. Most lost cloud data can even be retrieved within a few days as a result of multi-level redundancy. Multi-level redundancy is when the cloud server stores your data in at least three different places, therefore if it is lost in one location, it can easily be retrieved from another. Users do not need to manually store data in different locations since the cloud storage system has this feature built-in.

The most crucial piece of the cloud security puzzle is having a good password – I’m looking at you Password123! Experts recommend you change your password often, use a variety of letters and special characters and avoid using dictionary words. It is also recommended you use a different password for each website. Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that! Actually, there are several; the highest rated and most recommended password manager is LastPass. LastPass does offer a free version and it automatically generates and stores complicated passwords making it difficult for hackers to steal. The only password you need to remember is the one to access your vault. As an added feature, you can use the TouchID feature on your phone which scans your fingerprint to access sites. Additionally, experts recommend changing your security questions to nonsense letters and characters as an added level of protection, which can also be stored in your vault. The process of getting started can be a little time consuming so it’s best to change the passwords on your most valued accounts first and work your way down the list.

Still worried about the security of an app? LastPass uses AES-256 bit encryption which is the same security the federal government uses for classified documents. While there is always some risk associated with cloud servers and password managers, these will certainly add layers of security to make it much more difficult for hackers to access your information and your data will safely be stored for your access.

We value our clients and care about protecting their data. We encourage you to do your own research to see what software is tailored to best meet your needs. Theft of data is more common than we’d like to think. Please take preventative measures to protect yourself.

 

PKC Kuebler, APC is a full-service public accounting firm registered and licensed to practice as an accountancy corporation by the California Board of Accountancy . The information provided is intended for general tax and accounting needs. Articles are written for informational purposes only and should not be seen as any kind of advice. Content is accurate and true to the best of our knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes and it is advised you contact your CPA before taking any financial action. The opinions expressed in our articles do not reflect the opinions of any organizations in which we are affiliated with.

Contact Us

PKC | Kuebler, APC

43385 Business Park Drive, Suite 120
Temecula, CA 92590
Main: 951.676.6555
Fax: 951.676.6551