Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dropbox, Google Drive and other clouds - are they secure?

You may have been hearing a lot lately about this thing called "the cloud" and how it will magically solve all of your problems, but what is it? Once you get past all of the marketing being thrown at you the concept is very simple: the cloud is another term for the internet and all of it's global network connections. There are many companies that offer services, software, and tools via the cloud to businesses and individuals. Some of these services and products are beneficial and fairly safe, while others are not. It can be difficult to navigate this cloud landscape and all it has to offer, so CIT is here to help you make good decisions. Keep reading for some guidance on cloud file storage products such as Dropbox.

This week Google announced Google Drive, their cloud for storing, syncing and sharing files. While this new product is getting media attention, it is another entry into an already crowded market of free or low cost consumer-grade online storage. Dropbox, iCloud, SugarSync, and SkyDrive are just a few other examples.

These products are simple to use and attractive for sharing files, either with other people or between computers or mobile devices. As with any pioneering technology, these services have risks - especially information security risks. A good rule to follow if you're using cloud-based storage is to post only information you're OK sharing with the world. It probably won't be shared, but it is possible.

Calvin's Acceptable Use Policy describes four categories of information: private, confidential, community, and public. Private or confidential information should never be stored on these consumer-grade services.

If you have questions about how you can get your work done and protect valuable college information, CIT is here to help. Contact the CIT HelpDesk ( or x6-8555).

Matt Jeltema, CIT
Adam Vedra, Information Security Officer