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The cloud

The cloud covers a range of different services including software, tools and hardware — it helps process data, manage and store it.

The cloud lets you access a range of content from apps to contacts, emails, messages, videos, documents, music and photos — from any device, whenever and wherever you like.

Many companies like Amazon, Apple (iCloud), Google (Google Drive) and Dropbox offer various cloud services, including cloud storage. Most Australians regularly use a cloud service, often without even knowing it.

Should I be worried about using cloud storage?

Cloud services can differ widely in the level of technical expertise, security and customer support they offer.

Your level of risk also depends on your personal situation and who may have access to your account details. If you are in, or have left an abusive relationship, there is a risk that the abuser could have access to anything you have stored in the cloud, especially if the abuser set up the account. Read our advice on dealing with online abuse as part of domestic and family violence.

To help reduce your risk, change passwords and disable location settings for all your devices.

Remember that Apple’s Family Sharing, its Windows equivalent and similar apps for Android can involve sharing locations, media and purchases within the family. This can give any member the ability to track, lock or wipe another member’s device. These features could be used by an abusive ex-partner. Manage this by leaving the group, changing passwords or no longer sharing your or your children’s location with other members of the group. For more information see GPS and location-based services, phone and tablets and laptops and computers.

If you are experiencing technology-facilitated abuse, consider hiding or deleting any media, such as photographs, that you no longer wish to share.

How to keep your information secure

Good online safety habits will help keep your information secure in the cloud. 

These include:

  • Use strong passwords, and do not share them with anyone. See our advice on how to set strong passcodes on phones and tablets and passwords on laptops and computers.
  • Update passwords if your personal circumstance change and you want to ensure that no one else has access to your online accounts.
  • Hide the location of your devices by switching off location-based services as well as ensuring that photos and documents are not geotagged with your location.
  • Use different passwords for different sites or online accounts.
  • Log out of sites once you have finished, rather than just closing them.
  • Use secure and trustworthy sites — those with ‘https://’ in the website address and a locked padlock icon in the browser.
  • Research customer satisfaction and scamwatch websites before buying from a site for the first time. Learn more about how to safely browse the web.

Back up your data

You might also want to think about having a back-up strategy for your information. Physical back-ups, such as saving to a USB or portable hard drive, are a good idea for important information and photos, and cloud back-ups (to another cloud service) add an extra safeguard too. Depending on your situation, you could also ask a friend to keep a copy of valuable data, such as photos, for you.  

Keeping anti-virus software up-to-date is a ‘good housekeeping' habit to learn. See Stay Smart Online for help with device security.