March 25, 2024

Head in The Cloud: The Hidden Risks of Cloud Storage

a person sitting with a laptop in their lap while they float in the sky with their head in a cloud icon

We’ve talked about the privacy threats lurking on a host of software products and platforms: from search engines to web browsers to email providers. But as we approach World Backup Day on March 31st, we want to talk about another privacy threat that you might be stumbling into just by backing up your files. When it comes to backups, it’s tough to beat the convenience of the cloud. There’s no need for you to purchase or maintain your own hardware, it’s easy to sync and transfer files between devices, and you can enable automatic backups. But since we’re bringing up cloud storage providers in the context of this article, you’re probably realizing that this convenience comes at a price…and not just the price you might be paying for additional storage.

Popular cloud storage providers like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive can see the files and data that you’re uploading. That’s right. You may think that your documents, photos, and other media are protected and private, but we’re sorry to say that this simply isn’t true. Don’t take it from us, look at the verbiage in Google’s own Privacy Policy

“We also collect the content you create, upload, or receive from others when using our services. This includes things like…photos and videos you save, docs and spreadsheets you create…” 

 If you look at Dropbox’s Privacy Policy and see what information they collect, they give a similar answer:

“Your files, documents, photos, comments, messages, and so on (Your Stuff).” 

Not only have you heard it directly from them, you can also easily search for a multitude of cases where people have had their cloud accounts disabled or permanently banned for allegedly explicit or banned content. Does that necessarily mean that there are employees actively looking at every file that you upload to the cloud? They’re probably not looking at EVERYTHING you upload, but their policies are unclear as to who does access what, where, and why. We know that there is software that scans and “processes” every file that’s uploaded. And this is unfortunately where all of the potential cybersecurity and privacy issues start. 

Since none of the files you upload to these cloud service providers are encrypted, there are also potential security and privacy risks if anyone else manages to access your account. The breach doesn’t even have to happen on your end. When you utilize any cloud service provider, you’re at the mercy of whatever security protocols and infrastructure they decide is best for them. So, if there’s a mistake or bad actor that causes a breach on their end, there’s nothing you can do about it. 

Does this mean you should abandon the cloud altogether? Of course not. Much like with other software products, there are options out there that place concerns like user privacy at the top of their priority list. One prime example is our partners at INTERNXT, who check all the boxes for what you should look for in a private and secure cloud service provider:

  • Zero knowledge encryption for your files BEFORE they hit cloud servers, so that no one can see or access them but you
  • No third-party access to any of your files
  • File sharing with password protection and download limits for files
  • Apps available for desktop and mobile on all major operating systems
  • Open-source code for better transparency and agility

If their name sounds familiar, you may have seen it on our homepage back in 2022. Since our Startpage audience was so supportive during our first partnership, INTERNXT is now offering an impressive 90% discount for the Startpage community, which means that you can get encrypted, private cloud storage for less than a third what you would pay for one of the non-private providers. If you’re looking to try cloud storage for the first time or looking for a private alternative to your current one, this would be a perfect opportunity. And even if you decide that another provider is right for you, we invite you to use the above list as a benchmark to ensure that your data is as protected as it can be. 

(Disclosure: This blog post is part of a paid promotion for INTERNXT, although no additional commission is being made via this promotional link.)

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