Keep personal information in the cloud secure

Wondering if your photos, data and other information are securely stored in the cloud after the leak of celebrity photos over the Labor Day weekend?

UAB IT security professionals say the incident is a good reminder to the rest of us to take precautions with our own data.

Since most of us aren’t celebrities, our photos probably won’t be worth hackers’ time — but personal information can be.

So what can you do to keep your personal cloud accounts safe?

• Enable two-factor authentication on your cloud accounts. That way, if you — or someone else — tries to log into your account from a device that is not registered, you’ll have to log in using a verification code sent to one of your devices. It’s an extra step that helps secure your information.

Microsoft’s OneDrive — a cloud storage application available free for UAB students — uses two-factor identification and allows users to add security information to their account. Learn more here.

• Make sure you have a strong password. Ideally, you should use a passphrase you can remember. For example, choose “goblazers,” but replace some of the letters with numbers or symbols and include capital letters. The example, then, could become g0b!azers — easy to remember, harder to hack.

Change your password often to keep your data secure. That’s why UAB requires employees and students to change their BlazerID passwords frequently, and to make sure they contain the kind of character combinations that make them much less vulnerable to attacks.

• Consider using a password manager or password vault such as LastPass or KeePass. Such tools — which vary in price — can help manage your different logins while keeping them secure.

UAB employees should also be very cautious about cloud storage in regards to University information.

“UAB employees should not use cloud products for UAB business data without approval,” said Scott Fendley, information security operations manager for UAB IT. “UAB IT reviews the contracts and ensures that the cloud products meet our requirements.”

This month’s Tech Talk on Sept. 25 will feature a discussion of cloud computing at UAB.