IT Insights

How secure are cloud backups?

Backups are meant to protect your company’s crown jewels, also known as your business’ most critical and sensitive data. Cloud backups are touted as the most secure data storage since magnetic tape. Even the hacking of Apple’s cloud storage was not attributed to any weaknesses of cloud security but to Apple’s own faulty password system. But don’t simply take our word for it, take a look at how secure cloud backups are.


Encryption is cloud storage’s front line of defense against cybercriminals. It uses complex algorithms to conceal your backed up files. Without an encryption key, the files look like gibberish. Either the customer or the cloud storage provider has the key. Another way to decrypt them is with a huge amount of computer processing power, forensic software, and a lot of time. To give you an idea of the strength of cloud security, cloud backups normally use multiple layers of encryption. First, a triple data standard encryption also known as advanced encryption standard (AES) class encryption. This is further strengthened with an outer layer of encryption, as well as authenticated encryption or additional metadata that alerts users if files have been changed since their creation. Encryption also occurs in multiple stages, when files are in transit and when they are at rest. Encryption in transit is for when files are being transferred to cloud storage. Encryption at rest is for files before they are transferred into cloud storage. Some cloud storage providers offer military-grade encryption and client applications with encryption. Military-grade encryption allows data owners and users to have data encrypted and stored with their specifications and shared through a key management system. Client applications with encryption allow users to keep the key themselves and to upload and download files to and from cloud storage.

VPN and data connection

Backing up data to the cloud requires your files to traverse the internet. To further protect your encrypted data, the procedure is confined to a virtual private network (VPN), an encrypted network, or sometimes goes through a dedicated connection between your data center and the cloud.

Write once, read only access

Some cloud services store encrypted backup data as read-only and modifications or new content as add-ons. What happens is backup data stays intact. This protects the data from tampering. It cannot be overwritten, changed, or deleted. Furthermore, this creates the ability to roll back the archive to a certain point in time for a clean recovery.

Geographical isolation and physical security

One of the fundamentals in protecting data in the cloud is having an off-site backup location. It ensures the survivability and recovery of your data by keeping it safe from natural disasters tampering, theft, third-party access, or a disgruntled employee at an on-premise data center. An excellent cloud storage facility will have multiple levels of physical security. Microsoft’s data center rivals that of military facilities. Excellent cloud backup security protocols include limiting access to who may define, modify, and run backup jobs. They limit the number of administrators who work on backups regularly, as well as keep an access log to track activities. It’s the same for the data recovery process. If there’s one rule in securing your backup in the cloud, it’s imposing tight access control to your data. The less people have access to it, the less likely the risk of data breach or loss. The iCloud hacking incident is a good example of how even a walled garden like Apple’s ecosystem can be breached, and how it highlights the importance of having a good (cloud) backup system in place. An excellent cloud backup will have a password system that mitigates risks such as using the same password over multiple platforms or using passwords related to one’s personal life. Cloud services have a level of security that simply cannot be achieved by on-premise data centers. Discover this layered approach of security for data backup and recovery. Talk to us today.

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