I hate flying. It terrifies me. I know it’s safe. I know it’s fast. But, I also know I’m the kind of person that gutturally moans, “If God would’ve wanted us to fly, he would’ve made us with wings.” It’s a defense mechanism. It’s my way of refusing to admit that my sweaty palms, racing heart and arrhythmic panting is a bit of a problem for a relatively intelligent, 21st century human being.
Soaring through the air at 600 miles per hour and 35,000 feet off the ground just doesn’t give me “the feels” like a wonderful meal or a relaxing hike. Thankfully, my business isn’t an “Up in the Air” type of experience. Otherwise, I’d have to offer my resignation and start Googling for gigs that are perfectly suited for—what’s the technical term? Oh, yes—fraidy cats.
It seems being up in the clouds is where it’s at these days, though. We’re a jet-setting society. As I write this, for the first time in half a decade I’m flying the friendly skies tomorrow. Somehow I think my airline’s slogan, “If it matters to you, it matters to us,” just isn’t going to be that accurate for me. If it really mattered to them, like it matters to me, instead of blasting down the runway and zooming off into the air, they’d just drive the plane to Florida instead.
So what does all this have to do with the price of tea in China?
Two things. One, it’s a bit of pre-flight therapy. Two, it’s demonstrating the irrational fears that we have about taking our business to the clouds, or in this case, of taking our business to “the cloud.”
Many have a similar white-knuckle experience as me. Not while they’re boarding a plane to soar into the clouds, but when they’re logging onto their computers to start storing things in the cloud.
This is especially true this month, as taxes are increasingly connected with cloud-based services. No matter if you have your taxes done for you, if you buy the old-school do-it-yourself software or if you go directly through a cloud-based system, your data is likely connected to the cloud to some degree.
Is it safe? Is it secure? Am I going to plunge 5 miles to my death…oops…wrong fear, sorry about that. Your questions are valid.
The answer, of course, is that it depends. Having very personal data zipping around the world masked as a colony of zeros and ones is inherently a worthy safety issue to contemplate. But, like other irrational fears, most of what we dread is more about a myth that we’ve mangled in our minds than a reality.
To ensure that you are being completely safe with your cloud-based computing, these practical suggestions are vital. And all the more vital during tax season. Don’t hesitate to use a cloud based tax service, but do so in wise ways.
- Utilize good password protocols. It’s a pain, but it’s a powerful protective force to use unique and “strong” passwords for all of your various cloud-based services.
- Be careful about online “surveys” that purport to be testing your intelligence or evaluating your personality. We sometimes overshare during these games, offering hackers huge clues to our passwords and security questions that we’d never so willingly share if asked about them directly.
- Double the size of your protective defenses. Using “two factor” authentication is a proven way to stymie would-be identity thieves.
- Do we really have to say this in the 21st century? Back up your data, early and often. Make a physical backup of your cloud-based data. Store at least 1 backup in a supremely safe place, like a safe-deposit box.
- Loose lips do more than sink ships. Don’t share your login information with anyone: verbally, electronically or in practice by logging into cloud services from unsecure computers or over unsecure Wi-Fi networks. Trying to recover from a breach in security is a messy business. Best do it right the first time.
So, “come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away.” That’s the song we’re singing this month. Cloud computing is safe. It’s not fail-proof, but with precautions and wise practices, you can join the modern age with assurance, enjoying all the freedom, efficiency and practicality that comes with being up in the cloud.
Richard Singleton, MACE, MAMFC, LPC, is the executive director at STARRY in Round Rock.