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Why do you fear digital storage?

Patrick McDowell, AWMA® Investment Advisor Representative

What’s the best way to back up my digital information?

In writing or speaking, redundancy is typically not recommended unless you’re really trying to drive a point home. When it comes to your digital life, however, redundancy is not only recommended, it’s critical.

Redundancy is the term used to refer to data backups. If you have digital assets that you don’t want to risk losing forever–including photos, videos, original recordings, financial documents, and other materials–you’ll want to be sure to back them up regularly. And it’s not just materials on your personal computer, but your mobile devices as well. Depending on how much you use your devices, you may want to back them up as frequently as every few days.

A good rule to follow is the 3-2-1 rule. This rule helps reduce the risk that any one event–such as a fire, theft, or hack–will destroy or compromise both your primary data and all your backups. Have at least three copies of your data. This means a minimum of the original plus two backups. In the world of computer redundancy, more is definitely better. Use at least two different formats. For example, you might have one copy on an external hard drive and another on a flash drive, or one copy on a flash drive and another using a cloud-based service. Ensure that at least one backup copy is stored offsite. You could store your external hard drive in a safe-deposit box or at a trusted friend or family member’s house.

Cloud storage is also considered offsite. If a cloud service is one of your backup tactics, be sure to review carefully its policies and procedures for security and backup of its servers. Another good idea is to encrypt (that is, create strong passwords that only you know) to protect sensitive documents and your external drives.

So at the risk of sounding redundant (or driving the point home?), a good rule for data backup is to have at least three copies on at least two different formats, with at least one copy stored offsite. And more is always better.

I’m thinking about storing financial documents in the cloud. What should I know?

Cloud storage–using Internet-based service providers to store digital assets such as books, music, videos, photos, and even important documents including financial statements and contracts–has become increasingly popular in recent years. But is it right for you?

Opinions vary on whether to store your most sensitive information in the cloud. While some experts say you should physically store items you’re not willing to lose or expose publicly, others contend that high-security cloud options are available.

If you’re thinking about cloud storage for your financial documents, consider the following:

  • * Evaluate the provider’s reputation. Is the service well known, well tested, and well reviewed by information security experts?
  • Consider the provider’s own security and redundancy procedures. Look for such features as two-factor authentication and complex password requirements. Does it have copies of your data on servers at multiple geographic locations, so that a disaster in one area won’t result in an irretrievable loss of data?
  • Review the provider’s service agreement and terms and conditions. Make sure you understand how your data will be protected and what recourse you have in the event of a breach or loss. Also understand what happens when you delete a file–will it be completely removed from all servers? In the event a government subpoena is issued, must the service provider hand over the data?
  • Consider encryption processes, which prevent access to your data without your personal password (including access by people who work for the service provider). Will you be using a browser or app that provides for data encryption during transfer? And once your data is stored on the cloud servers, will it continue to be encrypted?
  • Make sure you have a complex system for creating passwords and never share your passwords with anyone.

 

Patrick McDowell

Investment Advisor Representative

www.radianpartners.net

901-202-3909

Information Sources:  Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions – approved newsletter articles

*Securities, Insurance, and investment advisory services offered through FSC Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC.   Radian Partners is not affiliated with FSC or registered as a broker-dealer or investment advisor.

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