Since its early 2000s ascent, cloud computing has had a remarkable impact on data evolution. When it comes to cloud storage though —from apps to businesses to personal photos — a common concern arises: security. Currently, the most popular cloud storage providers protect users’ data with end-to-end encryption. While this method safeguards user files from ISP hacking, it still leaves them unprotected.
Although an absolute pledge of protection against data loss is far-fetched, client-side encryption is quickly emerging as the most realistic alternative to end-to-end encryption.
Here’s how client-side encryption’s advanced, asymmetric cryptography offers both businesses and individual users a more secure cloud experience.
Personalized encryption keys
Client-side encryption is programmed so only users know the personally set encryption passphrase to access their files. This solution is perfect for businesses concerned with where valuable corporate information is stored or for individuals feeling uncomfortable about uploading personal information to the cloud. The encryption key gives users complete control over the security of the content they store in the cloud.
While most cloud passwords are stored on the storage provider’s servers, client-side encryption ensures that the passphrase and user information cannot be stolen because the passphrase and the non-encrypted files never leave the client device. In fact, if users lose or forget their passwords, they are entirely locked out of their files. Although this could be challenging, it promotes greater user responsibility and security over cloud storage.
Most critically, hackers and service providers lack access to a user’s passphrase. With client-side encryption, service providers are unable to give access to user data — even if they are legally compelled to do so — because they never knew the password to begin with. Not even the platform itself knows a user’s passphrase, and encrypted data will always remain private.
Zero-knowledge privacy standards
Adding to a user’s protection, client-side encryption also secures that cloud storage providers are blind to the content, name or type of files a user stores. Because all encrypting and decrypting happens directly on a user’s own device, as with a user’s password, there is no need for the storage provider to know the particulars of a file.
With end-to-end encryption, it’s still possible for servers to access and view stored files, even though files are protected during uninterrupted transfers between parties. With client-side encryption, zero-knowledge privacy on part of the cloud storage provider is guaranteed, both during and after transfer.
Individualized encryption options
Platforms using client-side encryption have the added capability of allowing users to control what data is encrypted. As many cloud storage users deal with a massive amount of sensitive data on a daily basis, the freedom of discretionary encryption can reduce the stresses of constantly protecting data. Knowing how and when data is encrypted is vital to optimal security.
Businesses will find this feature especially useful. With the ability to determine what data is encrypted, businesses can regulate employees’ encryption accesses based upon levels of responsibility or trust.
Also, because client-side encryption happens exclusively on a user’s device, plain text files never have to be exposed if a user doesn’t want them to be. As corporate and personal data is highly valuable, it should never be so blindly trusted in plain text to inadequate storage providers.
Stolen or discarded devices
With new technologies developing at a rapid pace, many users and businesses will upgrade their devices. As a practical bonus of client-side encryption, getting rid of devices with important information stored on their hard drives is easier. Not only can users encrypt files before uploading on the cloud but they can also encrypt files on their devices. If a device is stolen or discarded, these files remain extremely protected.
For both businesses and individual users, client-side encryption offers a number of uniquely powerful security measures that traditional end-to-end encryption cannot.
With the prevalence of cloud storage and digital content rising, security is a recurrent concern. In 2015 already, major hacks indicate that government infringements and third-party breaches are not yet resolved. It is clear that cloud storage providers need better protection, as they are responsible for users’ most important and memorable files.
However, when it comes to cloud storage, just because users are storing memorable files doesn’t mean that anyone else should remember how they’re storing them. Client-side encryption does just that.
Tunio Zafer is the CEO of cloud storage platform pCloud. As a leader and manager in the cloud storage space, Tunio promotes innovation in areas such as security measures and cost to end users. Tunio encourages forward-thinking throughout his team, working toward making a significant impact on the rapidly growing IT market for individuals and business alike.