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Mar 11, 2022

(+) Add Your Own Security for Online Backups

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

I have written several times about the wisdom of backing up your important computer files to the cloud and a couple of newsletter readers have questioned the wisdom and security of backing up files online. In my mind, this is a non-issue. Security is always under your control, if you wish. You can securely place any files on any online storage system if, and only if, you first encrypt the files before sending them from your computer. Luckily, that is easy to do.

Once your files are encrypted, nobody can read your files, not even the employees at the online service where the files are stored. Your encrypted files will be secure on any online service, regardless of that service’s security policies. There are dozens of free encryption programs to choose from for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.

Most online backup services encrypt your files before sending them to the online service. That’s MOST, but not all. There are a few exceptions. It is possible that some online services will not automatically encrypt files. You need to read the service’s specifications closely in order to find out.

Some paranoid individuals won’t believe any company’s published specifications. Indeed, there is good reason to be doubtful. One online service published a specification several years ago claiming that nobody could read your files that had been automatically encrypted and backed up. The company’s managers later became red-faced when it was revealed that a handful of systems personnel employed by the company COULD decrypt and read those files.

Indeed, the risk was small but any risk at all that contradicts any company’s stated policies is cause for concern. Luckily, the entire issue can be avoided by encrypting your own files first before backing them up to any online service. Then even the employees at the online service will not be able to view your files.

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