Google Drive can be useful both for storing your backup files and for saving some disk space, be it 15 GB or 1 TB. But Google Drive is a cloud-based storage, which means that when you store your files there you’re entrusting their security and your privacy to the ones who own that cloud storage. In our case, Google.
We’re living in an era where hackers are all over the place and our privacy seems to be always at risk, so the question is, how secure is Google Drive from hackers and how private is it from the guys on the inside who have access to it? Because it’s not just the hackers and the outsiders that you have to worry about, it’s also about the ones who are providing you with their services.
How Private is it?
So how much can we trust Google Drive? In the era where only 4% of all mobile devices are said to be safe, our concern about safety is valid.
I believe that this is something of highest importance for those who upload sensitive files on their drive such as naked photos of them or anything similar, it’s perfectly understandable that you wouldn’t want anyone looking at your photos even if it was for good reasons.
I gathered pretty much all of my information from Google’s general terms and services and the terms of services of Google Drive. Google says that some of your information will be recorded by an automated system for improvement purposes such as directed ads, of course, Google will also have access to the information that you provide them with such as your name, your date of birth and everything in between.
Although I have to mention that in Google’s general terms of the agreement, it is stated that some of your content might be reviewed to ensure that it does not violate any laws, copyrights, or anything like that. But I think that this is connected to other services of Google such as Youtube, Google Plus and other social accounts. I don’t see any reason for Google to go in to the trouble of manually reviewing your private content.
Other than that, Google can also gather your data indirectly with multiple ways. For example, if you visit a website that has Google ads then Google will be able to see what website you were visiting and the contents of that website. Apart from that, they can also collect some details about the device that you are using, they can see your location, and log information such as the queries that you looked at on Google search.
Google has also stated that all of your content still belongs to you and that they won’t use it for marketing purposes or anything like that, so, for the most part, Google will be able to see your location and some small information about your habits and tastes, but that’s pretty much all. Your files should be private and you shouldn’t have to worry too much about it, unless you have something illegal or something that your government would be interested in getting.
This is just like the case with VPN providers, if some security of high authority asks to get access to your files or if they ask for information about you from your provider, then he won’t be able to do anything about it, chances are that he’ll give all of your privacy away to save his neck. So if you have sensitive content that your government would be interested in or you have files that violate the law, then you’re better off by keeping them to yourself.
But in overall, using Google Drive in the regard of privacy should be fine. I highly doubt that you’ll have to worry about your privacy being violated when you use Google drive and just for the record, I also use Google drive to store important files as a backup plan.
Protection from Ransomware?
Backup is said to be the best solution for prevent yourself from ransomware. In case local files are encrypted on computer, files on Google drive will be also locked. So, how do you protect yourself in such case?
It is advisable to have on-demand sync of Drive folder instead of continuous sync. So, even if your important data on local computer is locked, you have a safe copy on cloud.
How Secure is it?
Alright, so it seems like we’re fine with the privacy part, but what about security? If a hacker wants to steal my files, will he be able to do it? At first glance, security seems to be great for Google Drive. It uses some sort of encryption to protect your files when you upload them or when you download them, the problem is that I couldn’t find which one.
Google did not share the method with me, they simply said that they used encryption but they never mentioned which one. I tried taking a look on the internet but the results varied, so I can’t know which one it was. But what matters is that there is encryption and while that may be useless for your average person, it’s still a nice extra layer of protection that we can use.
Other than that there is also the two-factor identification process which is optional but it’s recommended for those of you who have a weak password or for those of you who somehow managed to become targets for hackers. For those of you who don’t know about the two-factor identification, it’s simply another form of password. So you have to give your password as you normally do, but you’ll also have to do something else which proves that you are you and not a hacker by answering a security question or something.
And the one thing that ironically I liked the most, is the notification system. Every time that you connect to your account from a different device, you’ll get almost immediately an email that gives you information about that login. So if someone manages to hack your account, you will be notified about it and you will be able to change your password immediately before the hacker manages to do anything.
For the most part, Google Drive seems to be worthy of trusting, you’ll only have to worry about using it if you have weak passwords or if you have a habit of falling victim to phishing attacks. I think that mentioning the dangers of having illegal content and such is kind of useless too as that applies to most services.