What is “the cloud?” An explanation, plus tips to protect your stuff

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – This week’s celebrity nude photo hack raised a lot of questions about the security of “the cloud.”

In this case, it’s believed the compromising images were stolen from Apple iCloud accounts. Apple, of course, is just one of many companies who now offer cloud-based storage services.

So, what is “the cloud?” And, how can we protect our information there?

Basically, “the cloud” is a network of servers connected via the web. This “cloud” allows people to store photos, documents and more remotely, instead of on a hard-drive or smartphone.

Apple has said none of the cases investigated resulted from any “breach” in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone. That suggests hackers may have just punched in usernames and passwords over and over until they struck gold.

Still, cloud users may be looking for ways to protect themselves. Especially since Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Evernote and OneDrive are all increasingly popular cloud-based services. Verizon and other wireless companies also offer “cloud” backup.

Lindsey Turrentine, Editor in Chief of CNET, said cloud users need to think very carefully before uploading materials.

“The second it leaves your device and goes up to another computer in the cloud there is a small possibility that it can be intercepted,” Turrentine said. “Use best practices like two factor authentication, which basically means you have to have a physical device with a special code on it to get passed the username and password setting.”

Also, make sure to change your password for all major services – using a different one for each. Here are some tips for creating a good password.

If you just can’t bring yourself to do that, make sure at least to use a unique password for banking.