Online File Storage

Published on March 15th, 2013 | by adminbill

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iCloud

A free cloud storage and file hosting service provided by Apple that is used by over 300 million users.

Head In The Cloud

Setting up an iCloud account can be quite a laborious process and it’s not that intuitive for the first-time user, especially if you have never used Apple products before. When you log into the iCloud homepage, you’ll see no option to sign up for the service, only signing-in is possible using your Apple ID and password.

An Apple ID is an all-in-one account that enables you access to all of Apple’s products and services.  To create your Apple ID, fill in the form on this page. Apart from usual details, such as name and alternative email address, you also have to input your date  of birth  and your mailing address.

Passwords must be at least eight characters long, include at least one letter, at least one uppercase letter and at least one number.  As you type your chosen password, the various criteria light up in green or red to give you an indication of the strength of your password.

Safety First

iCloud secures your data by encrypting it when it is sent over the Internet, storing it in an encrypted format that uses a minimum of 128-bit AES encryption.  Moreover, all web pages where you can view or change your Apple ID utilize Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to protect your privacy.

Since March 2013, Apple has also given the option to all users with an Apple ID account to set up two-step verification and add an extra layer of security over their accounts. However, you cannot enable this directly from iCloud.

To switch on two-step verification, you need to go to the My Apple ID page and click on ‘Manage your Apple ID’ from the right-hand site of the menu.  Log into your account and once in, select the ‘Password & Security’ option from the resulting left hand menu, under the heading Two-Step Verification, click on Get Started.  You are taken through a couple of screens explaining the process and giving you the advantages and some warnings about enabling two-step verification.  Following this, you’ll begin the process of setting up two-step verification by adding your devices and inputting a mobile phone number that allows you to receive your security code via text message.

Security Settings on iCloud

All the security settings associated to your iCloud service are available from your Apple ID website.  Click on ‘Manage Apple ID’ from the right-hand side of the site and use your Apple ID to sign in to your account settings.  Under the ‘Edit your Apple ID’ menu, select the option ‘Password & Security’ to be presented with options relating to your security settings.  On this page you can change your password, modify your security question or set up two-step verification.

Keeping Your Data Private

iCloud conforms to Apples’ company-wide privacy policy that covers how and what personal information is collected and how it is used.

When setting up an Apple ID and using it in your day-to-day activities, Apple collects a variety of data, including: your name, mailing address, phone number, email address, contact preferences, and credit card information.  This information is used by Apple to help develop, deliver, and improve their products, services, content, and advertising.

The personal information collected also allows Apple to contact its users with product announcements, software updates and policy updates. Occasionally, the data collected is disclosed to third party companies that are engaged by Apple to do work on its behalf and even in this case it is treated with strict confidentiality.

Clearing The Air

The process to delete your iCloud account and remove all personal data depends on the iOS device you are using.

There have been several reports of frustrated users who could not easily remove iCloud, but Apple has finally provided an easier way to do so.  If you’re using an iPhone to close your iCloud account, simply open up the Settings App, and scroll down until you see the iCloud icon.  To delete the iCloud account from the device, just press the red ‘Delete Account’ button.  To do this on a Mac, go into System Preferences, choose iCloud and then press the “Sign Out” button.  This removes the iCloud from your device.

Cloudy With A Chance of Hacking

There have been some serious reports of iCloud being hacked with users saying that their data was wiped from their devices or that their email accounts were used to send out spam.

These attacks have prompted Apple to beef up its security defences with the introduction of an optional two-step verification process.  Unfortunately, it appears that data stored on iCloud, such as system backups are still vulnerable to attach and it is suggested that users make an external backup of this information.

Adding Apps To iCloud

There are a few third party OSX and iOS apps that integrate with iCloud and there haven’t been reports of scams or malware infections from users.  Apple does not hold itself responsible for the content or security of third party applications and it is up to the user to decide whether to trust applications developed by third party companies and read their privacy policies.

Seeing Where Your Data Goes

Unfortunately, there are currently no tools to help users track the security of their information on iCloud.


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