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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection | article

Does Cloud Computing Present an Identity Theft Risk?

Businesses and organizations around the world have been embracing cloud computing with increasing regularity, however a number of threats have left some hesitant when it comes to trusting their data to this emerging technology. At first, companies were happy to turn over their data storage responsibilities — and, in turn, the personal information of their customers, partners and stakeholders — to cloud computing vendors. But major data breaches have left some asking if cloud computing could be a risk factor for identity theft.

What is cloud computing?
The term cloud computing defines the concept in which computer users store data in a remote location, as opposed to saving this information on a local network or storage device. Consumers that use Web services that store music files or documents in an online account, for instance, are keeping that data in the “cloud,” rather than saving it to their own hard drive or a local network. That lets them access those files from different devices and in different locations around the world, as long as they have access to the Internet.

Businesses and government agencies gravitate toward the concept because many have tons of data that becomes onerous and costly to store locally. Rather than keep this data on in-house devices, these corporations can call upon a cloud computing vendor to store the data remotely, allowing clients, employees, customers and stakeholders the ability to access the information wherever they are and sparing the organization from saving the information themselves.

What are the potential threats?
Though the concept may seem simple and safe, cloud computing can pose security threats. Data breaches have given hackers access to the personal information of consumers who conducted business with certain organizations, possibly increasing their risk for identity theft. For that reason, some experts argue the sheer volume of data stored with cloud computing vendors requires significant security measures. With so much data stored with a handful of sources, some fear identity theft could become easier for cunning hackers, putting at risk the credit reports and scores of a great number of people.

Tips to help you stay secure
Despite the potential risks, it appears likely cloud computing’s utilization will continue to grow. Consumers can stay on alert for identity theft by exercising good credit score habits.

  • Check your credit reports and scores often, keeping on the lookout for evidence of identity theft.
  • Stay on top of the latest security threats and risks related to cloud computing.
  • Create unique passwords for online accounts.
  • Consider credit monitoring, which can provide alerts to potential identity theft risks.