Cloud technology has significantly changed the way we transfer information at work, at home, and on the go. By allowing us to store our files in a space with no physical boundaries, cloud technology keeps us connected to every file we need/want, no matter where life takes us. The one drawback is the additional privacy risks involved with using a cloud system for back up storage.

We’ve all heard of the crazy cloud hacks that leaked celebrities’ personal photos and allowed ransomware attacks on certain devices. Although these might lead one to think that cloud storage should be avoided altogether, it wouldn’t be wise to exclude yourself from the benefits of backing up your device using the cloud when you could simply take a few steps to secure your cloud activity.

For those of you who’d like to learn more about how you can use the cloud while securing your files and information, here are 5 effective ways you can make your cloud computing more secure.

1. Opt out of automatic backups

Automatic data back-ups may be handy, but they could also be risky in terms of privacy. If your device is set to automatically backup each time you plug in your phone and connect to WiFi, it is uploading all of your images, videos, and other files that could contain content you would rather not put out there.

To avoid uploading sensitive content to the cloud, use your device’s cloud settings to turn off automatic backups. Gizmodo has an excellent guide to help you do this for both iOS and Android devices.

2. Be smart about your password

This one should be a given, but it’s actually surprising how many of us are still using weak or duplicate passwords. Start by picking a unique password for your cloud account that is comprised of lower and upper case letters, at least one number, and at least one symbol. Once you’ve got a good one, make sure you don’t use it for another account! Using the same password for multiple accounts can be extremely risky. This is because if one account gets hacked, the hackers could potentially hack all of your other accounts using the same login credentials.

3. Apply two-factor authentication

Applying two-factor authentication to an account is one of the best steps you can take to secure the content within it. By applying this setting to your cloud account, you protect your information from others by requiring both your password and a unique password sent to your phone or email address to login from a new device. The security precaution combines something only you should know (your password) with something only you should have (your phone) to significantly decrease the possibility of a hacker reaching your personal information.

You can set up two-factor authentication for iOS and Android cloud systems.

4. Remove credentials from old devices

One critically important step to cloud security that many individuals neglect is to ensure that your cloud account is fully disabled from your device before your give it away or sell it. If you do not remove your account from your device, the new owner will be able to access your sensitive information as well as any images you’ve stored. Unlocking your device is a pretty simple process for both Android and iOS devices. Clearing your device prior to selling will also make it a lot easier for honest buyers to input their own settings after purchase.

5. Avoid sketchy WiFi networks

Connecting to public WiFi accounts can significantly increase the likelihood of your accounts getting hacked. This holds especially true for open networks.

If possible, try to avoid open WiFi networks and stick to those that are encrypted (password protected). These accounts are less likely to be linked to malicious users. When you’re using an open network, be sure to use a VPN (virtual private network) to protect your browsing activity. It will also be in your best interest to visit only secure sites (marked with https) to avoid malicious sites while using public WiFi. There are definitely more precautions you should take while connected to public WiFi. You can find a pretty solid guide here.

So there you have it, five ways you should be protecting yourself if you’re using a cloud storage space to store your files. If you have any additional tips or questions, I’d love to hear them! Let me know in the comments below.