With the advent of social media, many aspects of our lives have become much more public than at any other time in our history. However, there are certain times when we not only want to maintain our privacy and security out of choice, but also out of necessity. One of these occasions is when using online services to back up and protect our digital files, whether they are documents, images, video or music. Our digital data is important to us, and part of who we are. It belongs to us, and its loss would be a major blow to many of us.
Therefore, understanding how online backup works, and in particular how are files are kept secure, is an important part of maintaining trust in the different services available for cloud storage. Understandably, companies providing online backup services will make a big deal about how secure their services are. For those who want extra peace of mind, however, a proper understanding of just how and why your data is kept secure helps to give you extra trust in the companies that manage your information.
What is Online Backup?
The principles behind online backup and cloud storage services are quite simple. In most cases, in order to keep accurate and current copies of your information, a backup service will most likely provide you with a piece of software to install on your computer. With a few clicks of your keyboard and mouse, you tell the software which files and folders on your computer you want to back up. The software will then securely copy those files and folders and send them, encrypted, over the internet for safe storage on a remote system. Using an online backup or cloud storage service prevents you having potentially unreliable and expensive hard drive costs of your own.
Online backup software keeps an up-to-date track of your files and folders, noting any changes when they occur, and uploading new versions of files to the online servers as and when it is necessary.
Of course, for this to happen safely, it has to happen securely. This means that the online backup service providers need to use special software and protocols (which is how computers on the internet move things around) in order to make sure your data and information is fully protected. Security is not the only consideration, however.
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What is Online Backup Security?
At the heart of online backup security are Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Socket Layers (SSL). If you have ever watched a spy movie, where a character calls back to base and asks for a connection to a ‘secure line’, the principle is exactly the same. With older phone lines, as well as with some forms of internet communication, it is theoretically possible for someone to ‘listen in’ and grab snippets of the conversation or data if they have the right skills or equipment. This is why security is of vital importance in protecting your data.
By using TLS and SSL, just as with a secure line in a spy movie plot, the information is scrambled and protected in such a way that it is extremely difficult for someone to listen in and grab any information. Almost all online file storage service providers, regardless of the connection they provide for you to upload your files (whether it is through their customized proprietary software, through a web interface, or through FTP), will be set up in a manner involving such measures as TLS and SSL to help keep your data safe.
The most significant part about this is that when you are uploading your important files and documents to your online backup service provider, you can be sure you are only uploading this data to them, and not to a third party who is snooping in on the internet ‘conversation’. Transport Layer Security and Secure Socket Layers are exactly the same services and protocols that are at work when you do your online shopping or internet banking. In those instances, people are often dealing with debit and credit card information and other important and personal financial information. You can therefore rest assured that an online backup service using TLS and SSL has the same level of high security as your bank.
Next time that you are shopping online, look at the web address in your browser bar when you are going through the purchasing part of the site. Most web addresses begin with http://, but a secure web address (meaning one that uses SSL to transmit your information securely) will begin instead with https://. The key to this security is something that is called encryption. Encryption is a means whereby information is garbled, or encoded, at one end of the information chain. It is then decoded at the other end so that it makes sense again. If the information is interrupted in the middle of the transmission, it will make no sense whatsoever without the encryption key.
In the case of online data backups, the encryption keys that are used to encode and decode data are created and managed by the backup service companies. These companies go to great lengths to make sure that the keys are kept completely secure and are only accessed by those who are authorized to help you manage your data. Some companies will even allow you to create your own encryption keys, if you would prefer to have even more control over your data. For most people, however, this is unnecessary.
Encryption can vary, with 40-bit encryption (no longer used) being typically the lowest level, and 448-bit encryption being the highest level. Most companies will use 128-bit standardized encryption, as does SSL. This is more than enough, as it has never been hacked.
Rest Assured that Online Backup Services are Secure
Although most online backup service providers will be considerably smaller businesses than the bank that looks after your money, your data is just as important to your backup service provider as your financial information is to your bank. This is exactly the reason why they use the same protocols and services, and will have staff whose priority is the safety of your data and information. With TLS and SSL encryption up to 128-bits, and in some cases beyond, you can be absolutely sure that your information and files are secure with online backup.
AUTHOR: This post was written by Everton Blair
AUTHOR: This post was written by Everton Blair