There is talk among certain circles that data is not secure when it is stored in the cloud. If you haven’t done your due diligence, that may be true.

The cloud has the ability to be more secure than your business computer or server because in the cloud, your security provider is focused solely on protecting the assets of its clients. If you put your data in the cloud with a reputable company, it will spend thousands of dollars securing your data. You’re looking at economies of scale. To stay in business and meet certain regulatory requirements, and not earn a bad reputation, the company will protect its own environment by updating software and implementing security fixes.

But, just because you are moving things to the cloud doesn’t mean you are abdicating responsibility for your own data. You still have to secure your personal and business machines. You still have to use secure passwords.

Here are some best practices for keeping your personal and business data secure:

Use a password vault program—a secure, Internet-based system that keeps track of your passwords for you. Passwords are so critical and yet so difficult to remember, especially if they are secure. Don’t use the same password for everything.

Run antivirus scans on your machine, make sure you have the security settings turned on in your browser and don’t just click on every link you see. Educate yourself about fishing and other scams. A Nigerian prince doesn’t know who you are and isn’t leaving you millions of dollars, but this scam is one of the longest running and most successful at gaining people’s confidential information.

Also, the IRS never contacts taxpayers via e-mail. If you receive an e-mail “notice” from the IRS asking you to verify your Social Security number because you owe back taxes, it is a scam.

E-mail is one of the quickest ways scammers can get at your data. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Don’t read them. Don’t click on links. Delete them as fast as you can. No good can come of opening them. Make good use of your spam filters.

You also need to protect your data as it is being collected, especially if it is confidential. Encrypt your data while transferring it from your tablet or computer to the data center where your information is kept. Make sure it is segmented and can’t get mixed in with other data.

Password-protect all of the devices you will be using to access your data. That includes cell phones, tablets and computers.

If you take control of your own personal security, then storing your documents in the cloud will only help you, not hurt you. You will save money and your data will be safer than if you tried to do everything yourself. What a great concept.

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