You may have heard people using terms like the cloud, cloud computing, or cloud storage.
Basically, the cloud is the Internet—more specifically, it’s all of the things you can access remotely over the Internet.
When something is in the cloud, it means it is stored on servers on the Internet instead of only on your computer.
It lets you access your calendar, email, files, and more from any computer that has an Internet connection.
No one knows exactly how much space can be provided by cloud-based services like Google, Amazon or Facebook; however, according to this infographic, the cloud can store about 1 Exabyte.
How secure is the cloud?
Unsurprisingly, the idea of storing personal information somewhere “up in the cloud” makes many people wary.
The cloud used to be only great for storing non-sensitive information, like to-do lists on platforms like Evernote.
Some companies, like Google, are responding to this worry accordingly. Google automatically encrypts data for cloud storage service users.
The real-world physical analogy of Cloud Storage is rather simple.
- Document = Picture, Word Document, Spreadsheet, etc
- Encryption Machine = web browser or installed app
- Armored Car Driver = using https:// protocol + physical internet connection.
- Bank Vault = secure server located in a data center.
- Vault Manager = Cloud service provider, e.g., Google Drive, Microsoft Onedrive, ICloud, Dropbox.
Storing documents in the cloud:
- You have a document
- You keep the document, and create a copy of that document by running it thru an Encryption machine using your password.
- You give the Encrypted Document to an Armored Car Driver.
- The Armored Car delivers the document to one of many undisclosed secure locations, and locks it in a Bank Vault.
- The Vault Manager periodically makes multiple copies of the encrypted document, and stores it in other Bank Vaults to guard against loss / damage.
- Even if someone inadvertently sees your document in one of the Bank Vaults, it would appear as gibberish without knowing your password (private key.)
When you change your local document, the above process repeats (automatically).
If you were to lose your local copy of the document:
You could, from any location where you can communicate with the Vault Manager ask him to send you a copy of the document.
He would send it to you in the reverse of the above process, where you would de-crypt the document with your private key (password).
When using a Cloud Service Provider like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc, all of the above is transparent to the endusers.