Outsourcing storage can save your company lots of money, but how do you know your information will be safe in the cloud? Cloud computing is now commonplace, but unfortunately, security breaches are becoming all too common as well.

Here are five smart practices for keeping your company’s data safe in the cloud.

1. Use strong passwords.

This tip might seem obvious, but the number of breaches resulting from weak passwords begs to differ. A cloud service can only be as strong as the password used to protect it, so make sure yours is strong. Use at least 10 characters, with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numerals, and symbols. Nonsensical passwords are best – it should not include a word that appears in the dictionary. More information: 4 Easy Steps to Toughen Up Your Passwords.

2. Protect your connection.

One of the main differences between using a cloud computing service and using traditional software is that, with a cloud service, all data exchanged between the user and service passes over the Internet. Since everything you see on the screen, and everything you type into your browser passes through this connection, a middleman could easily intercept information if you aren’t careful.

Make sure your connection to the cloud service is encrypted by checking to see if there is a small lock icon (either to the left or the right of the URL) in your web browser’s URL bar. If you do not see this lock icon, it’s time to find another cloud service provider.

Avoid using public Wi-Fi connections for cloud computing sessions even when you are tempted to use a free, open hot spot on the go. Access cloud services only through a known and encrypted wireless router.

3. Check your provider’s security policy.

Most cloud computing providers explain their data security systems and methods in detail, so look for a security statement on the home page of your provider or any potential one. At minimum, the policy should ensure that SSl encryption is used. You might also check to see how frequently information is backed up and where it is stored. The best cloud providers are audited, certified, or both, by independent agencies. These credentials ensure that their security policies are up to standards.

4. Perform your own backups.

Perform periodic backups on your own servers in addition to the backup provided by your cloud service. No system is foolproof, so this added step will provide you with an extra layer of security. Set up your own system to periodically download data kept on your cloud service, and then back it up in the same way you would anything on your computer.

5. Train employees to be responsible in the cloud.

Make sure your entire workforce understands how they can contribute to cloud safety so nothing slips through the cracks. Just like other areas of technology, user training is critical for compliance. Anyone who accesses a cloud service needs to learn strong security habits.

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