If you’re using any kind of cloud application (and these days, who isn’t?), you are right to be concerned about data privacy and security. The company hosting your data is ultimately responsible for keeping hackers out of THEIR network, but most cloud breaches are due to USER ERROR. So it’s important that you, the user, are being smart about security. Here are a few things you can easily do to improve security in the cloud:

1. Maintain a STRONG password of at least eight characters with both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Do NOT make it easy, such as “Password123!” While that technically meets the requirements, a hacker could easily crack that, and already has (its part of a password database now).

2. Make sure the device you’re using to access the application is secure. This is an area where you may need professional help in installing and maintaining a strong firewall, end point security (antivirus is part of that idea) and spam-filtering software. If you share your computer with children or its a public computer such as at a library, think twice before accessing your cloud application. You can’t know whether or not that computer is infected with something that steals passwords.

And number 3, consider a ““Reverse”-backup” your data. Just because your data is “in the cloud”, it doesn’t mean its backed up! If that data is important, make sure you’’re downloading it from the application and backing it up in another safe and secure location. That way, if your account is hacked or the data is corrupted, you have a copy.

If you use Office365, Google Apps, or Salesforce, check out product called “Backupify”. Backupify is a tool that specializes in backing up cloud data to somewhere else automatically. Cole Informatics can set you up with a demo on this if you’re interested.

Lastly, the biggest thing to consider about cloud data is that its in someone else’s possession…ultimately you have no control over it. Make sure your business or personal operations can operate if for any reason its no longer available to you!