- Use Strong Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication
You are already doing this with your regular accounts right? These tips apply to your cloud accounts as well: Choose long and unique passwords that are difficult to guess, and use a password manager. You should also switch on two-factor authentication (2FA) if it's available (most popular cloud storage services now support it). Enabling 2FA means no one will be able to use the account without the username, password, and device access that you setup.
- Audit Your Shares
Cloud storage services are fantastic for sharing files with other people—but it can leave your data open to unauthorized access if someone else finds those links, or manages to access the account of a person you've shared files with. Limit the number of "share links" that you create, rather use sharing to invite a specific person to share a document. Be careful who you share files and folders with, and add expiry dates to your shares. It's also a good idea to run a regular audit of all the shares that are currently active on your account.
- Clear Out Your 'Deleted' Files
Many cloud storage services run a recycle bin of sorts, keeping deleted files around for a few days or weeks just in case you want them back. This is often very helpful and can be an advantage if someone tries to wipe your account. That said, you might want to make sure certain sensitive files are completely obliterated and no longer able to be recovered.
- Check Your Connected Apps and Accounts
Even if hackers aren't able to get into your accounts through the front door, they might try and gain access through a side window—in other words, through another account that's connected to your cloud storage. While it can be convenient to have connections to your calendar or email apps set up, for
- Turn on Account Alerts
Most cloud storage services will send you alerts about events, such as new sign-ins. Make sure you have these alerts turned on. You should also subscribe to alerts about activity inside your accounts, such as new shares that have been created, or files and folders that have been removed.
- Deactivate Old Devices That Still Have Access
Most cloud storage services let you sync files from multiple devices, so if you upgrade your phone, switch jobs, or use a new laptop, it's important that you properly disconnect and deactivate the old ones - this will prevent the person inheriting your device from inadvertently accessing your data. In the case of OneDrive, for example, go to your Microsoft account online and click All devices to view and remove devices associated with your account.
- Enable Account Recovery Options
Your cloud storage account is only as secure as the weakest link attached to it, which means you need to keep the account recovery options as well protected as your login credentials. Make sure that the email recovery account is a private account with no other party having access.
- Sign Out When You're Not Using Your Accounts
For convenience, you'll probably want to stay signed into your cloud storage accounts while you're using them. When you're done, it's important that you sign out to stop anyone else gaining access to your files—especially if you're on a computer that's shared with other people. If you are accessing sensitive information, this should only be done from a dedicated device for yourself only.
- Protect Your Devices, Too
Physical security is important too. Keep the phones, laptops, and other devices where you use your cloud storage accounts guarded against unauthorized access. Make sure it is protected with a minimum of a pin number, or facial recognition.