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Can I pick up a computer virus from the cloud?

by Brian Cody

The noughties has been the age where consumers and businesses finally realised the convenience of cloud storage and computing – and rightly so! Your data and documents are now readily available, easily accessible and taking up virtually no extra personal space. 

But how safe and secure is your data in the cloud? Could your data be susceptible to malicious code even though it’s not stored on your desktop?

The short answers are ‘it varies’ and ‘yes’ respectively. Like everything internet-related, you always need to be mindful of where your personal information is going. Ensure that appropriate protocols are in place to protect your best interests.

The problem is that people assume that their cloud provider is safely securing their personal information and naturally place their trust with them, yet the customer actually has no visibility of the cloud infrastructure they’re using and little transparency around their security settings.

But ask yourself this: what security measures are in place to protect your data in the cloud? Do you actually know if your provider is following common security best practices to secure your valuable information?

Uploading files that are unknowingly infected with malware to the cloud can potentially harm your stored data and dramatically increase the risk of infecting any device you use to access that data. Simple things like sharing files with friends, family or loved ones can increase your risk of malware infection and ruin your/their computer – and no one wants that!

Automatically syncing your data to the cloud can even transfer malicious code without you clicking a button. Even worse, if you’re sharing your cloud with multiple parties, it only takes one infected file to spread across multiple users, which could result in devastating data breaches and even ransomware attacks.

Trust us, you don’t want that as hackers can go so far as locking down your whole computer and holding it at ransom for upwards of hundreds of pounds.

As more and more people adapt and move to the cloud, hackers will naturally adapt too.

Recent research pointed to a Russian hacker group targeting the cloud with malware that sifts through network traffic, looking for ways to steal and infect files and documents. Cybercriminals are always coming up with more sophisticated ways to infiltrate our personal data.

So, yes, it’s absolutely possible to pick up a computer virus from the cloud.

What can you do to protect your data on the cloud?

  1. Get serious about your passwords

    You’ve probably heard the warning dozens of times before, but people still tend to ignore one of the most simple security best practices. Using the same password for multiple accounts can really jeopardise your security and leave you wide open to be hacked. Create a strong, unique password using a combination of numbers letters and symbols but always avoid those easy to guess combinations.

    Need help creating a strong password? Follow our 10 golden rules.

  2. Avoid sharing sensitive information on the cloud

    Try and keep your sensitive information off the virtual world where possible. If you don’t know exactly how your information is being protected, don’t risk it. Remember when all those celebrity accounts were hacked? It happens. It could happen to you!
    Most of your sensitive data shouldn’t need to be readily available at all times, so only store files you need to access frequently and keep the rest of your data offline. 

  3. Install trusted security software

    Installing the right security software is critical to protecting you at all angles from a cyberattack. Good antivirus software can identify malware and other potential issues before they infiltrate the cloud. 

While you should be careful about the cloud, it’s a useful storage tool. Be safe and keep your wits about you and the cloud can become an integral tool in your day to day life.

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