In today’s digital age, it is easy to understand why people would have concerns with cloud-based services because of all the stories in the wind about government agencies and multinational corporations getting hacked. It is reasonable to be concerned about your data because of all the government websites with high-security firewalls being hacked. Now, even though it is true that nothing on the internet is entirely hack-proof, the real concern should be whether your data will be a potential target for hackers. Random hacking events are completely different from targeted hacks, such as those often heard in the media. Sophisticated hacking syndicates try not to waste time on targets where they might not get anything in return for the time they spend. Hackers know that they can get valuable data from large corporations and government agencies, so it is worth their time and effort to make them a target.
The Real Question
The real question that needs to be asked at this point is “Are they better equipped at protecting my data than I am?”. For the tech nerds out there, the answer might be no, but for most other people, the answer is a plain and simple yes. Companies that make their livelihood providing secure online data storage services are more focused on fighting hackers and providing security than you will ever be. Technically, any one of these online services can be hacked that would typically only give access to a large amount of encrypted data. The hackers would then have to spend an unknown amount of time trying to decrypt the data just so that they can see what they were able to steal. If they are investing time, energy and money for something like that, they would rather attack the stock market than a bunch of random citizens. Your comparatively small amount of data among the millions of others’ data, would also need to somehow become a specific target for hackers to use.
Most people do not encrypt data on their computers, but all the online backup services do. When using an online backup service, the files are encrypted on your own machine before they are uploaded by a secure connection to the company’s storage servers. The files remain encrypted, and many give you the option of storing the only key on your own computer for decrypting your data.
So in conclusion, it’s not that these online services aren’t hackable, they just aren’t attractive enough of a target for hackers. Connecting an external hard drive to the computer will remove the risk of a hacker in the event that an online service is compromised, but it can be stolen, get destroyed in a fire, flood, ransomware attacks or other common scenarios for the average user.