Website & eCommerce Articles

Alternatives to iCloud Following the Jennifer Lawrence Stolen Photos Scandal

by Jennifer Riggins
Published on 2 September 2014

With the J ennifer Lawrence Apple iCloud Security Breach , everybody's giving his iPad the evil eye today. Really, is cloud computing safe? Is cloud storage secure? Are there alternatives to iCloud? Or are our whims and poor decisions destined to be the next Google trend?

Today we attempt to answer your iCloud security questions and talk about how you can learn from Jennifer Lawrence's nude awakening to make sure both your personal and professional cloud computing is kept secure.

jennifer lawrence icloud photo leeked

From Edward Snowden to eBay and Target to a new meaning for The Hunger Games, it seems like every day offers us a new reminder that we need to be hyper-aware of what we have online where and how easily can the world access it.

How do I know if the cloud is secure?

Intimate photos aside, if your business stores credit card or identity card numbers, birth dates, healthcare information or any other private details, remember you don't only have a moral imperative to keep this data safe, it is a legal one too. Gartner research group has repeatedly stated that cloud computing has "unique attributes that require risk assessment in areas such as data integrity, recovery, privacy, and an evaluation of legal issues."

19 Questions to Ask Before Adopting a Cloud Solution

Before deciding on a cloud solution, you need to verify that both the app and its server can offer you the answers to these cloud security questions :

  1. How do you secure my mission-critical information and protect against leaks , viruses , and fraud?
  2. How long has this app been around? (You don't want to end up with a crashed company holding onto your sensitive details.)
  3. Does this website have HTTPS?
  4. Do you do background checks on your employees before hiring?
  5. How often are your data and servers backed up?
  6. How will you be storing my data?
  7. How will you share or use my data and that of my customers?
  8. Does my business maintain sole ownership of this data?
  9. Particularly if you're an ecommerce and shopping cart retailer, where customers are entering their own credit card data, how is that data monitored and secured?
  10. Is my data encrypted in transit or while in storage, or both?
  11. Which of your employees will have access to which of my data and under what circumstances?
  12. Do you hold a third-party privacy certification like SSL?
  13. How long is your app going to hold onto my data for?
  14. If I leave this app, will I be able to extract my data?
  15. What is your app's service level agreement and/or an uptime agreement?
  16. Who is liable in the case of a security breach? (Even if it's not your fault, you could be responsible aka liable if customer credit details or patient information is leaked.)
  17. Am I locked into a lifetime contract? Or can me and my data leave at any time?
  18. How easy is it to move my data to another cloud solution?
  19. Will you keep my data if and when I leave?

This may seem like a lot of questions, but, whether it's found on the official website or if you need to call support, they should really be able to answer these questions. Any good third-party service provider, especially a cloud solution, will have a staunch statement of security and privacy policies and an excellent back-up plan.

Finally, before deciding on a cloud solution for your small business, always read user reviews. Just like you Ctrl+F for gross keyword "bugs" on TripAdvisor, the least amount of effort you should put into business software reviews is to do a quick scan of negative reviews for any security breach red flags.

How to Share Sensitive Information Online

Use your common sense, understanding whether it's online or not, if something exists, it is at risk to be shared. I still remember when I started university, hearing of the "campus porn." This poor girl had to drop out of school after her roommate shared a videotape (yes VHS) of her and her boyfriend, (who by the way became the campus hero.) Leaks have been around since Watergate.

I'll be the first to remind you that, when in doubt, don't share that information-those naked photos will always show up somewhere at some point-but sometimes you have sensitive information you can't avoid sharing. That's when a cloud solution is usually much more secure that your hard drive, flash drive, or mobile memory card.

Alternatives to iCloud

Not gonna lie, I'm an iCloud addict and this security breach won't change my habit of using this file sharing application, particularly among my multiple iOS devices, as simply the most convenient file storage solution for my work and play habits. But I realize that the egg on Jennifer Lawrence's face may have you wanting to look for alternatives to iCloud, especially when you are looking to assure your small business security.

Here are alternatives to iCloud that come well-equipped with native iPad** and **** iPhone apps:**

ShareFile

If you are nervous about leaving your files in the hands of a third-party app, a household name like Citrix should relieve some of your nervousness. ShareFile , which fancies itself the iCloud for business , offers Citrix's sense for security to more than 30 million businesses. ShareFile focuses on collaboration and mobility - making it a fit for both small businesses without a centralized offices and larger enterprises with multiple locations.

ShareFile comes equipped with audit trails, customer reporting, and file version control. ShareFile's just released its iPad app for file-sharing, annotating and change tracking on contracts and other sensitive documents, while ShareFile as a whole allows you to sync files across all devices, whether iOS, PC or Mobile. Since it allows files up to 10GB, you can share larger files that need a security guarantee.

While ShareFile is only a file-sharing app, it acts as a mobile device management software by allowing your IT team to lock or wipe stolen or lost mobile phones and tablets from a remote location.

ShareFile is also unique that it actually integrates with competitors like Box and Dropbox, allowing folks to store their documents anywhere, but get business done within ShareFile. It also has impressively deep integrations with FreshBooks and Basecamp, which allow you to automate who sees what of your invoices and project management docs, without having to pay for extra subscriptions to any of these apps.

Hightail

Hightail is a file sharing app and collaboration tool for both colleagues and clients. It allows you to simply set user permissions , document passwords , expiration dates , identity confirmations , and email notifications , all so you have control over who can look at and act upon various documents and files. CNET calls Hightail as "Perfectly designed for mobile use," particularly talking about it's native iPad app.

HighTail's premium subscribers have unlimited storage and can also send large files of up to 10GB. All plans come with data encryption. It comes with a solid slant towards business purposes, allowing seamless and efficient file sharing.

Hightail is used by more than 45 million people already, and it's notable for its professionalism. Hightail is ideal for freelancers, large enterprises, small businesses, medium ones, non-profit organizations, and anything else you could throw at it.

SmartCryptor

More than just a file sharing alternative to iCloud, SmartCryptor was probably really what Jennifer Lawrence should have used. SmartCryptor lets you encrypt anything you need to keep secure and private. What's more, SmartCryptor works with any local or cloud-based storage resource, so you have great flexibility when it comes to choosing where you put your encrypted data, making it the ideal encryption tool for any business needing to share files in the post-Snowden revelations age.

SmartCryptor offers you and your small business total control over the data lifecycle in a unique security architecture , user permissions management, audit logs for compliance , and LDAP integration to centralize all accounts, all where you want to store anything.

SpiderOak

SpiderOak cloud-based storage platform has been really hot lately because it's made for the post-Snowden age. It's so secure that it's the cloud storage platform for the ultra-secure Blackphone.

SpiderOak features an installable application tool that first encrypts user data before transmitting it to the cloud. The company provides a "zero-knowledge" environment for your files, which means SpiderOak's servers have no information about the documents you store.

Instead of sharing files across platforms or iCloud, you can create separate a separate Shareroom for each person you wish to share with (of course, when talking nudie pics, we've all learned you can trust no one.)

It's not necessarily the most intuitive app, nor the best rated in the iPad store, but, if you really take backing up your files seriously without your cloud solution's knowledge, and mobile isn't too important, SpiderOak is probably your best bet.

But what IF my small business security is breached?

We don't all have a public relations team on hand to chase down our personal information and put a positive spin on an embarrassing situation. Just like school fire drills, you need to have a well-communicated action plan in place in case your company's data is breached.

Whether your office has been broken into or a computer is hacked, you should:

  1. File a police report
  2. Notify all your colleagues of a potential breach to any devices that contain the same passwords
  3. Have all employees change passwords, requiring they be: - More than 8 words - A combination of lowercase, capital letters, numbers and other special characters - Random words combined together make it easier to not forget. - Enforce quarterly updating of passwords
  4. Contact your rental or office insurance company
  5. Contact the three major credit bureaus
  6. Notify your customers if their credit card information or identity can be at risk

Of course in this mobile world, the greatest risk to your small business security is most likely your BYOD bring your own device culture.

How Mobile Device Management is Combatting BYOD

BYOD is convenient for your employees who can now work from anywhere and spend more time selling, and it certainly saves you immense hardware costs. But it comes with a big risk. These are devices that you don't have control over that travel to places you'd rather they not, where they could fall into the wrong hands.

A great way to control and protect both your company's mobile device properties and those BYODers is mobile device management software. Most small businesses are looking for an MDM that offers internal IT staff full control over data and synchronization , mobile applications enablement , common configuration settings and policy management, and, of course, performance monitoring and data analytics.

By simultaneously managing multiple devices through one software product, mobile device management helps you reduce cost and downtime, while minimizing the significant business risks of hacking, information leaking and simply the device getting stolen.

A good Mobile Device Management application should include the ability to:

  • Add passwords and block intruders who enter multiple failed attempts
  • Remotely lock or wipe data from stolen or lost devices
  • Configure shared email, contacts and calendars
  • Detect jailbroken or rooted devices
  • Ensure compliance with corporate best practices
  • Block or remove unwanted apps
  • Audit call logs and messages; find and track devices and remotely update settings
  • GPS monitoring of the location of your staff during business hours
  • Can act as a time clock software

Are you ready to accept the risk?

In the end, remember that the Internet, by nature, is susceptible to cyber threats like hackers and leaked (or leeked!) photos. If you don't want embarrassing photos of you shared, simply don't save them anywhere, or, possibly better still, don't take them at all. Or you can be like me, simply accept that my life is out there on the Internet and that there is assumed risk that comes with such an amazing resource, while taking extra care that at least my banking and business data is secure.

Want to learn more about how to protect your small business security?

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