Depending on where the provider's headquarters are located, data protection and security regulations vary in their strictness. In the USA, the understanding of data protection differs from that in Europe or Germany, for example. American legislation offers authorities based there the possibility, in case of doubt, to view all data and information stored in a cloud. This may even be the case if the American company stores the data in Europe rather than in the USA. The highest technical and legal standards are met by providers in Germany and in Europe in general, who must comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
So before you store files in the cloud, it is advisable to find out about the provider.
What you should definitely consider when using the cloud:
- Look for a provider that can demonstrably guarantee the preservation of your data and is fail-safe.
- There are documents that you should not store externally (and if you do, then only in encrypted form). These include files related to your health, tax records or bank statements. If the provider's systems are hacked by cybercriminals, you will otherwise be delivering sensitive data free of charge.
Encryption in the cloud
It is generally advisable to encrypt documents that you store in cloud storage. Special programs do this for you. From the operating system's point of view, nothing changes at first. You access the data directly from Explorer or Finder as usual, and you don't need to enter a password for each document. This is called "transparent encryption". Changes you make are immediately synchronized as usual, except that the files are stored on the server in encrypted form and only you have the key.
The apps all work according to the same principle:
- After installing the software, you first connect to the cloud storage.
- The software creates encrypted data containers that grow along with the required storage space. The developers have taken care to ensure that only the changed files need to be synchronized when changes are made, and not the entire encrypted area, for example.
- To access the containers, a (preferably strong) password must be used. Please do not use a password that is already used privately in other cases.
- The container is automatically mounted like an external drive in the file manager of the operating system. You copy and move the files in plain text. The software encrypts them and stores the encrypted data in the cloud in real time.
- You can also access your encrypted data on mobile devices, as developers also offer apps that take care of encryption and decryption on the go.
Well-known and trusted apps for encryption in the cloud include:
For experienced users – use your own cloud!Do you have good computer skills and have network storage at home or rented storage space for your websites from a provider? Then you could also run your personal cloud. This way you know exactly where the data is located and you can be sure that only the people you allow to access it can do so. What you need is the Nextcloud software, which is also available in variants for NAS systems. Setup isn't difficult for experienced users, but a little knowledge of how to use a web server or network hard drive is necessary until the system is fully set up. Thanks to its own app, Nextcloud even offers the possibility to synchronize the files on the smartphone with it.