Cloud storagePosted: September 10, 2014
Cloud storage – just how does it work?
In recent weeks, there has been much in the media surrounding the breach of cloud storage privacy, prompting many to question the security of online storage facilities. Griffith
Manager of IT Security and Identity Services, Jolyon Suthers, has provided some valuable information about Cloud Storage and it’s use.
How does Cloud Storage store files?
Almost all Cloud Storage providers operate on a similar model, your personal files are encrypted in transit from your device when transmitted into the “Cloud”. There they are typically large storage structures, designed for redundancy and performance, these being situated in one or more data centres around the world.
Unfortunately there are no accepted standards for security between Cloud Storage vendors, and having a large amount of personal / privileged information all in one place is very tempted for criminals and rogue actors.
Griffith’s Cloud Storage provider is Google Drive, is it secure for staff to be saving files on there?
The security of a cloud storage system is dependant upon both the cloud vendor and the end-user of the system, in the case of Google Drive by default your files are encrypted between your computer and the cloud, either through your web-browser or the Google Drive application.
The security of your file within Google Drive is dependant upon the “sharing” settings that you use within Google Drive; by default though only you and authorised Griffith staff can view your files. When a staff member leaves Griffith, their Google Drive files are deleted, if they aren’t transferred to another staff member first. Overall a file on Google Drive is safer than sharing a file via email.
Griffith has legal agreements in-place with Google that define the access and legal protections around our files, which therefore means that it is the safest cloud storage offering that is currently available.
Why does Griffith use Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage, such as Google Drive, is an effective method of allowing multiple people to directly access a file at the same time; no matter where they are in the world. Integrated into Google Drive’s functionality is a full backup of your files, and access to changes to the file. Google Drive grants staff & students a dramatically large amount of file storage then Griffith could supply itself, and with a greater degree of flexibility.
Previously a large amount of email storage was consumed with people emailing documents to each other, cloud storage reduces the size of individual email accounts and ensures that people are accessing the most recent copy of a file.
What can staff do to ensure their files are as safe as possible?
There is no single best option, it is important for staff to consider the needs of the files, information that is stored just on their computer unfortunately isn’t backed-up and isn’t safe.
The best options for collaborating on files is to either store the files on G:, Sharepoint, or Google Drive. G: is a backed-up environment, but can only be accessed by Griffith computers.
Google Drive allows limiting access to shared files to ‘Editors’, ‘Commenters’, and ‘Viewers’; when sharing access to files think about the level of access and consider the lowest level that is appropriate. Sharepoint supplies a Griffith hosted, limited cloud storage option, with functionality that allows for collaborative editing, etc. This option is appropriate for formal University committees, working parties, and project/team collaboration. It is best suited for collecting a large collection of documents around a common theme; often of greater sensitivity then what can be best stored with Google Drive.
There are some good resources on the Information Management Framework website that can help staff make the appropriate decision regarding safe file storage.