With more and more organizations preferring cloud storage, the debate about data security in the cloud has come to the fore yet again. Some experts have been very resolute in their stand about the security concerns of data in the cloud.
While most of them have not expressed serious concerns about the security of their data, the fact remains that they are not sure of its security. If the security concerns that involves the cloud storage are addressed effectively, then there is a positive chance that more users will move to the cloud in the future.

Cloud server hosting services claim that the cloud is as secure as any other online storage resource. In addition, there should not be any major security concerns about data security as data is stored in the cloud in an encrypted form. No intruder will be able to read the data as it will be in a scrambled format that must be unscrambled to make sense of the data stored.

The leading cloud computing and cloud security experts opine that the location of the encryption keys is different for every cloud storage service. They have their own formula for storage of these all-crucial encryption keys. In addition, they also offer effective ways of enhancing data security by providing tools and features apart from what is already built into the cloud system.

The Encryption Keys – Who Keeps It?

A key question that arises here is who remains in charge and control of the encryption keys. Every user’s data stored on a commercial cloud storage system is encoded using a unique encryption key. The key must be used to make sense of the encrypted information; else, it may not make any sense to a third party. In fact, it may appear gibberish.

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If you are wondering who is entrusted the responsibility of keeping these critical keys, the answer is that it is held by the service providers themselves, or by individual users. Most services keep the key themselves as is a common practice followed by the industry. This allows them to view the user data and process it and even indexing it for searches in the future. When the user logs in, the service provider accesses the key and unlocks the data to allow legitimate users access to the information they are looking for.

This is a common arrangement but many experts aver that this is a less secure arrangement. There is an outside chance that the keys might fall into wrong hands. In addition, some service providers might have gaps in their systems, which might be exploited by cyber criminals.

Some cloud storage services make use of slightly complicated steps that involve uploading and downloading files through applications that are client-specific. Some services allow clients to keep the keys to themselves.

What to Do When Cloud Storage Services Are Not Exactly Perfect

It is a known fact that these cloud storage services are not perfect. There is always some gap or deficiency in the service. This also might create a chance that an intruder might access some or all the files at different stages of the securing process – before encryption for uploading or after downloaded and decryption.
During research on the subject of cloud storage vulnerability, attention was drawn to a mobile app which claimed that they encrypt phone photos right from the moment they are taken, and through transmission and storage in the cloud. This type of secure encryption can also be used for protection of other types of data. The only loose link in this kind of encryption is the time gap of the moments after the picture is taken, and before it is encrypted and stored.

How Cloud Storage Security Can Be Enhanced?

Combining the features offered by leading and successful cloud storage services can be a good way of enhancing data security. You can consider using your own software to encrypt data before it is uploaded to the cloud. The encoded file can be then uploaded without any risk of theft. You can access the file when needed by downloading the encoded file and decrypting it using your own software.

While this might appear a foolproof way of using the cloud for secure data storage, this approach might prevent you from using some key cloud services offered by the providers such as live editing of documents for sharing and searching for specific files while they are still in the cloud.

There is also a realistic chance that your cloud services provider could modify the data in the files altering the encrypted file before it is downloaded. You can, however, prevent this from happening by using authenticated encryption. This method can be used for storing an encrypted file and also additional metadata. The user can easily find out if a specific file has been modified from the time it was created.

The final word on this: For those who are not keen to learn how to manage their cloud storage tools, they can choose one of these two options.

The first choice is to use the services of a cloud storage service with a reputation for reliable and open-source upload and download software, validated by independent agencies in this field. The second option is to use encryption software to encrypt your data before uploading it to the cloud.

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