Encrypt data in the cloud

Cloud Storage

Many small businesses use cloud-based storage services such as Google, Box, DropBox and SugarSync to store and share data and files. These all have in-built security, but this could be compromised by a hacker.

Sharing of data

Sharing files and data enables effective collaborative working with customers, suppliers and colleagues too. However, data should be protected from being read by unauthorised people. This is where encryption can help.

What is encryption?

Encryption is the process of encoding a message. It is based on mathematical and cryptographical techniques, some ranging back to the Second World War.

Encryption is widely used in the IT sector. If you choose to use third-party cloud based storage, then my advice is to encrypt data before you upload it. This way anyone who hacked into your account would only get scrambled-up ones and noughts. So how is this done? The first step to encrypting data is to download either WinZip or 7-Zip software. These applications allow you to compress data and files into a ‘zip’ file. A password can be applied, which is then used to encrypt data.

Upload the encrypted data zip file to your cloud storage service. Even if people at the cloud storage business accessed your account and files (which they should not do, but has happened before), then they will not be able to extract the files from the zip file – they need the password too.

Transmit the key – the password

The person you actually want to share the data with should be sent an alert that the data is ready to read. Send them the password – not by email, but in person, by a phone call, or by a text message.


However you share or encrypt data, think about the risk and impact if it was leaked. Use encryption to protect it, when it is in transit or in storage.


Download 7-zip – go to www.7-zip.org and then add files to a new ‘zip’ archive.  Add a password to encrypt data:

7-Zip screenshot

7-Zip screenshot