Should You Sync Outlook through the Cloud?

Should You Sync Outlook through the Cloud?

Synchronizing your Outlook calendar, contact and other data in the cloud can make it easier for you to manage it and access it from anywhere on any device. Unfortunately, file sync and share applications like Dropbox that use the cloud could put your sensitive information at risk.


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One company was doing an analysis of Google AdWords and Google Analytics data. It wasn’t looking for sensitive files, yet it inadvertently came across URLs that opened confidential files, such as tax returns, bank records and business plans. A goldmine for identity theft especially when more than half of the respondents in a Fiberlink survey say they upload sensitive data to cloud services.

This is alarming considering the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s survey on consumer fraud reports that more than 10 percent of adults become victims of fraud every year. Furthermore, home security firm Friedland conducted a survey that has found four out of five thieves use publicly posted social media status updates to find potential victims.

Using a cloud-based app has a whole host of security challenges that are out of users’ control. There’s physical security of the servers hosting the content. Is the data encrypted? How? Has the company done a background check on employees? Insider hacking has made news.

Cloud providers often work with third parties because of integration. Does the cloud provider have security processes for its third parties? All of this requires doing due diligence and ensuring their service level agreements are airtight. This is overkill for most people who just want to sync Outlook contacts with a phone.

In ‘Secure’ Cloud File Sync Is The Wrong Move, Jonathan Feldman explains that the simplicity of the process involved with using cloud apps is what draws people to them. But they’re still not secure. “There’s no doubt that cloud-based file sync has created a huge security issue. But expecting to solve it with inadequate products isn’t the way to go,” Feldman writes.

His recommendation is to educate the user. However, this doesn’t solve the problem for users who simply want to sync Outlook calendar with a phone.

So what can you do about it?

If you need to use a cloud app, start by keeping financial, business and personal sensitive information out of the cloud as much as possible. Also review your privacy settings in your file sync and share application because many of them have a “public” setting as the default. Avoid sharing sensitive files and delete files as soon as the recipient receives it.

For any folders and files you’ve already shared or have in “public” status, delete them. Yes, delete as opposed to just changing the setting from “public” to “private.” After deleting them, upload them again in “private” status.

Another option is to find alternative sync solutions with more security and privacy options that don’t post your data in the cloud. Rather, the data moves from device to device without making a stop on insecure cloud servers. These could be a private cloud, an external hard drive or non-cloud app that lets you sync Outlook calendar and contacts.

AkrutoSync is a program that that allows Windows Phone and Android users to sync Outlook contacts, calendars, tasks and notes in an automatic, cloud-free, seamless and secure way.

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