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How To Secure Files On Google Drive?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Google Drive is a cloud based file hosting service which was launched by Google in early 2012. The service not only allows you to store, share and synchronize files across multiple devices; it also provides a platform for collaborative editing of documents through Google Docs, Sheets and Slides suite of applications. As of mid 2014, Google Drive is one of the most popular cloud based services with over 190 million monthly users.

Google Drive is considered a secure service but it has suffered security breaches in the past. And while Google has enabled HTTPS communication to prevent your data from man-in-the-middle type of attacks, there’s a lot more that you can do to secure your files on Google Drive. Here are some tips that will help you to secure your files and account:

Secure your Google Account

Since Google Drive is tightly integrated with your Google account, you need to keep your Google account really secure. Do not use weak passwords that contain your personal information or which could be easily guessed by others. Make sure to specify account recovery options (mobile number, alternative email address) so that you can recover your account even if it gets compromised. Also, remember to keep your operating system, browser, anti-virus and firewall updated so that your system and data remains safe from the latest security threats.

Use 2-step Verification

Do not forget to use 2-step verification while accessing your Google Drive account for an extra layer of security. Although the step is optional, we strong urge you to use it since it will protect your precious data from hackers and anyone else who might have guessed your password. Once you enable 2-step verification, you have to type the random code sent to you through SMS or generated via Google Authenticator in addition to providing your username and password details.

Sharing Settings

Google makes it possible to share folders and files with others but you must carefully think about the privileges that you wish to grant to others. Google allows you to share files and folders with specific people, people who have the exact link to the file or folder or with anyone on the web. Apart from reviewing sharing settings, you also need to look at what kind of actions other people are allowed to perform on your files. Since Google allows others to edit and delete files, you need to be really careful while granting editing privileges to others. To prevent accidental deletion or editing, set the permission to “view” while sharing documents.

Shared Computers

For maximum security, it is advisable not to install Google Drive on a shared or public computer since the Drive folder is visible to everyone who has access to the machine. But in case you have to install it on a shared computer, it is advisable to encrypt files (see below) first so that no one would be able to open your files even when they have access to the folder. It is also a good practice to sign out of your Google account on public and shared computers so that others cannot access your emails and documents.

Encrypt Files

While Google encrypts data on cloud, it is advisable to encrypt your files to add an extra layer of security. There are many applications like Syncdocs and Boxcryptor that can encrypt files with up to 256 bit encryption on Google Drive with the click of a button. For even more security, use the password protection feature available within applications like Word and Excel before encrypting and transferring your documents to the cloud.

Manage Permissions

For a bulletproof level of security, you should only allow trusted websites and applications to access your Google account. These permissions can be managed from the Security settings available within your Google account so you must log into your account and revoke access to questionable applications and websites.

November 12, 2014

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