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6 Principles of Storing Your Files in the Cloud Safely

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6 Principles of Storing Your Files in the Cloud Safely

The cloud offers a convenient and budget-friendly way to store data for your small business. It allows you to back up, sync, and access files across several devices and minimizes the costs associated with keeping your company’s information on-site. The cloud is also one of the most secure ways to house data — if you take a few simple precautions.

Follow these six fundamental rules for safely storing your company’s information in the cloud.

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1. Research Cloud providers

Safely using cloud storage starts with choosing a reputable cloud storage service that best meets your needs. As you shop for a cloud storage service, look for one with positive customer reviews and a proven history of keeping its customers’ data secure. Be sure the provider you choose offers multiple-level redundancy, which means there are several copies of your data to prevent it being lost if one server fails. Redundancy across multiple geographic locations is another important security feature you’ll want from your cloud storage company. This means your data is housed at various locations, so if an event like a fire or natural disaster somehow destroys your data it can still be retrieved.

2. Match the sensitivity of your data to the cloud provider’s level of security

Three out of five small businesses close within six months of experiencing a data-security breach. If you are storing sensitive data, like clients’ financial or identifying information, make sure your cloud provider provides best-in-class security features. You’ll probably pay a bit more for enhanced security options, but it’s a worthwhile investment. On the other hand, not every file your small business handles will be highly sensitive. Storing non-critical data with a cloud provider that offers strong, albeit less robust, security features will probably be adequate — and reduce expenses.

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3. Back up your data that’s in the cloud

Data stored in the cloud is typically more secure than data kept on your computer, but it is not a complete backup solution — and nothing is 100-percent fail-safe. Backing up the files you store in the cloud is a critical part of leveraging cloud technology safely. Many backup proponents suggest using the 3-2-1 standard: maintain three backups of files that are too important to lose, utilizing at least two different formats, with at least one of the backups residing off-site — meaning at a place other than where your computer or server is located.

4. Encrypt your cloud files

If your cloud service account is compromised, your files may become accessible to cyber criminals. To help minimize data vulnerability, encrypt your files before sending them to the cloud. Another option is to use a tool like BoxCryptor or nCrypted Cloud, which automatically encrypt your cloud backups.

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5. Use password best practices

Good password management is one of the most effective ways to help keep your files safe. Use a password generator like LastPass to create a hard-to-crack code, never share your password, and don’t write it down or save it on your device. Avoid accessing your cloud account using public Wi-Fi, and change your password at least once every quarter. Make sure your employees are well-versed in password security practices for small businesses, have password polices in place, and enforce them.

6. Look for “https”

Your data can be captured by a hacker while it’s en route to the cloud or traveling from the cloud to your device. To help prevent this from happening, look for “https” (versus “http”) in front of the cloud service’s URL in your browser’s address bar. “Https” is the secure version of “http,” which is the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the cloud or any website that you are connected to. When you see “https,” the communication between your browser and the cloud service is encrypted.

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Keep these safety tips in mind, and cloud storage can be an effective way to keep files accessible while protecting your small business data against everything from hackers to malware.

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Last Updated on November 25, 2021

How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

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How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

There comes a time when we may be searching online and don’t want the browser to remember our footsteps. The reasons don’t always have to be what we obviously think of as the main reason; for example, sometimes, you may not want Safari to remember your passwords or prompt you to enter your password when surfing the web.

Whatever the reason, we may think that we are totally in the clear with Private Browsing on Safari and the other browsers on a Mac. However, a quick Terminal command can bring up every website you’ve visited. How do you do this? Also, how do you clear your tracks for good? We will provide both answers and more today.

    What Does Private Browsing Do?

    When activated, Private Browsing on Safari prevents your browsing history from being kept in the history tab of the application. Along with this, it doesn’t autofill information that you have saved in the browser. In this mode, you essentially become incognito and any references of previous use is essentially hidden when you are in private mode.

    For example: if you are on Facebook or filling out a form and some information or your login is already filled in in the spaces provided, this is called autofill. It’s activated by simply clicking Safari next to the Apple symbol in the menubar and selecting Private Browsing, then clicking “OK” to the prompt.

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    The reasons behind private mode differ for each individual. While we won’t go into all of those reasons, one thing that is  important to remember is that private browsing doesn’t forget the websites you visit. As we will see later on, Macs keep a second copy of the websites you visit in either mode. If you are in frantic mode looking for a solution to this, look no further.

    The Terminal Archive

    While Safari does a good job of keeping your search history out of prying eyes in the history tab, there is a less-than-obvious way to view a full list of visited websites on Mac. This is done in Terminal; the command-line emulator that allows you to make changes to your Mac.

    Terminal is located in the Utilities folder on your Mac. Once activated, simply add the command:

    dscacheutil -cachedump -entries Host

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    Once you hit “enter”, a list of the visited sites appear. Showing only the domains, the sites appear in a format of:

    Key: h_name :(website domain)ipv4 :1

    However, there’s no need to fear—there is a way you can clear this information from Terminal with a command that’s just as simple.

    Clearing Your Tracks

    Just as simply as you were able to enter the command to view the websites, you can clear the cache that Terminal showed you with the comamnd:

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    dscacheutil -flushcache

    As the command denotes, this literally “flushes” the domains from Terminal. This does not prevent the record from continuing to be recorded for future sites, however, so if that’s an issue for you, repeat this process regularly.

    Other Browsers and Private Browsing

    Other browsers have this form of privacy mode for their service. They promise many of the same things as Safari, but they do not have the same Terminal issue due to how this command only presents websites visited on Safari (the browser Macs come shipped with).

    If you use Firefox, you’ll notice that its private mode is also known as Private Browsing. Chrome calls private mode Incognito, while Internet Explorer refers to it as InPrivate Browsing. Opera is the newest to the scene, denoting it as Private Tab. Safari is the oldest well-known browser with this feature.

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    As you can see, despite Private Browsing not being 100% private, Terminal allows for your browser to be. In what ways has Terminal helped your life or allowed you to become more productive? Let us know in the comments below.

    Featured photo credit: Benjamin Dada via unsplash.com

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