There’s never been so many options for storing data. The popularity and use of Cloud storage continues grow. Yet, at the same time, portable storage devices are still prevalent for business or personal use. In fact, according to Digital Journal, the portable data storage market is expected to grow at approximately $4 billion by 2023. Tweet This! Many people still don’t trust the Cloud and would prefer something more tangible to store their photos, videos, documents, or other personal, sensitive information.
In addition to personal preferences, there are certain utilitarian reasons why using hardware can be better than the Cloud. Local, portable storage devices include USB drives (also known as flash drives) and external hard drives. These devices have never been more affordable, and they’re a one-time cost as opposed to a subscription-based Cloud storage model that may require monthly or annual ongoing payments. Some even consider them more secure than web-based storage because a potential thief would have to be in physical possession of the device to gain access to their data. However, smaller USB drives can easily be lost, stolen, or misplaced.
Besides personal use, businesses will use flash drives to transport presentations, store customer databases, or house other files that contain confidential information. If these fall into the wrong hands it could lead to disaster. This has been a concern for IT and information security professionals, and many companies and government agencies have policies regarding the use of portable storage devices at work.
We all know that there’s no way to fully protect yourself or your company’s data 100 percent, but here are some best practices to secure your data on portable storage devices.
Encrypt Your Data
By encrypting the files on your portable storage device, you are essentially password protecting them. This added level of security goes a long way to stopping those who are after sensitive information. The most common types of files that people encrypt are Office Documents and PDF files. Check out this guide for more information on encrypting Word documents, Excel workbooks, PowerPoint presentations, and even PDFs. There are also some free tools that you can download to password protect your USB drive.
Buy a Device with Built-In Security Protocols
Increasing threats of data breaches have led to portable storage devices that now have built-in security protocols. Some of them have a setup process that requires a username and password to gain access. There are even flash drives that have a keypad on them, requiring a user to enter their pin number before revealing the contents of the drive. Do your research and see what option makes the most sense for you, both at work and at home.
Backup Your Data on Another Secure Device (or the Cloud)
One risk of storing your data on a portable storage device is that it can be physically damaged or destroyed. From fire or water or impact damage, the threat of losing sensitive information is ever-present. Be sure to back up your data on a separate device and keep that in a different, secure location. Or, utilize the Cloud as a secondary recovery tool.
The Dangers of a Data Breach
Ultimately, the responsibility of security comes down to the individual user. It’s critical to train your employees on how to securely store or transport files using portable storage devices. If sensitive information is openly available, yourself, your employees, or your customers will be exposed to an increased risk of identity theft or fraudulent activity. Follow the tips above to best protect your data when using portable storage devices.