Is Cloud Storage a Safer Option for Protecting Windows Files?

In summary: Yes. Remember, the admin is supposed to be able to do anything on the system, this is their role. They can reset passwords, view file contents, etc. That's their role. If you want to hide something from the system admin, then you have to use a method that is not part of the operating system because the admin has the maximum level of access possible on the system.This is why jedishrfu suggested a 3rd party tool (something not part of your operating system) to encrypt your data. Then you are using a tool that the admin does not have access into.But yes, any builtin windows features are under the control of the system administrator and they have the rights to
  • #1
WWGD
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,033
10,635
Hi All,
There are certain options to protect information on Windows: restricting access to files, encryption, etc. Still, since it is possible to disable or change the admin password, is there any reasonable measure left to protect files (Assuming here that admin logins have unrestricted access. Right?)? Or is it a better option to leave them somewhere on the cloud: Dropbox, etc?
 
Computer science news on Phys.org
  • #2
Your best bet to protect files is to do backups and keep them around. Also you should consider encrypting ones with personal info so that hackers can't take advantage of the information. While you could place them in the cloud, there is always the chance that a hacker could gain access to them once they compromise your signon password.

You could also consider storing some of your backups at the local bank for further protection and establish a schedule of doing backups and storing them at the bank.

And consider storing them on multiple media like CDs, DVDs, USB sticks, USB external drives realizing that:
- USB external drives are susceptible to magnetic fields, and
- CDs/DVDs are susceptible to heat and scratches.

Some folks have even recommended digital tape over external drives. Keep a working CD/DVD player/recorder around and similarly for the digital tape drive.
 
  • Like
Likes WWGD
  • #3
jedishrfu said:
Your best bet to protect files is to do backups and keep them around. Also you should consider encrypting ones with personal info so that hackers can't take advantage of the information. While you could place them in the cloud, there is always the chance that a hacker could gain access to them once they compromise your signon password.

You could also consider storing some of your backups at the local bank for further protection and establish a schedule of doing backups and storing them at the bank.
Thanks, but doesn't anyone with an admin login, or, after disabling/changing admin password have the ability to decrypt files? EDIT: This is simple to do, just by logging in safe mode, or , if logged in ( as a non-admin) going into the command prompt.
 
  • #4
If you encrypt with some utility like a zip tool that is outside the purview of Windows administration.
 
  • Like
Likes WWGD
  • #5
jedishrfu said:
If you encrypt with some utility like a zip tool that is outside the purview of Windows administration.
Thanks again. Is it the case that ( EDIT: just-about; sorry for the fuzzyness here, I know you cannot be expected to cover every possible scenario; just a sort of ball-park here ) any security measure within Windows can be overcome either with an admin password or by disabling password use ( which is scarily easy to do) ?
 
Last edited:
  • #6
WWGD said:
Thanks again. Is it the case that ( EDIT: just-about; sorry for the fuzzyness here, I know you cannot be expected to cover every possible scenario; just a sort of ball-park here ) any security measure within Windows can be overcome either with an admin password or by disabling password use ( which is scarily easy to do) ?
Yes. Remember, the admin is supposed to be able to do anything on the system, this is their role. They can reset passwords, view file contents, etc. That's their role. If you want to hide something from the system admin, then you have to use a method that is not part of the operating system because the admin has the maximum level of access possible on the system.

This is why jedishrfu suggested a 3rd party tool (something not part of of your operating system) to encrypt your data. Then you are using a tool that the admin does not have access into.

But yes, any builtin windows features are under the control of the system administrator and they have the rights to do whatever they want on the system. This isn't a bug, its a requirement of how the system works. So don't hire an admin that you don't trust :)
 
  • #7
Like any modern OS, given the admin password you can a lot of things to compromise the machine like make drives shareable, install spyware, look at other users unencrypted files or even change them. You can alter the time stamps on files to hide the fact that you edited them...

The one thing you can't do is decrypt an encrypted file without knowing the password unless you, as the bad admin, had compromised the encryption tool beforehand.

This means your encrypted files are safe from viewing but not safe from deletion or getting corrupted or in the case of ransomware encrypted again. Also it means the bad admin can't get your password to use to sign on as you unless the OS has poor security practices allowing it to decrypted from its hashed value.
 
  • #8
A third-party encryption software like PGP or VeraCrypt are really the best option for keeping data protected from system administrators, but depending on the sensitivity of the data, even these may not be sufficient to protect your enryption keys safe from administrators using a keylogger, in which case you may also need a hardware/two factor key.
 
  • #9
As others have said, the most essential thing is to ensure that all your important data is regularly backed up in some medium other than your PC local drives.
That way you can't lose anything even if your OS file system is totally trashed.
It's a pain. but you just restore everything to how it was.
Before the arrival of online malware it was necessary to do that anyway, hard drives were not very reliable, and could suffer from a 'head crash'.
 
  • #10
Yes, my bad, I wrongly assumed Bitlocker was third-party. Thanks to all.
 
  • Like
Likes jedishrfu

Related to Is Cloud Storage a Safer Option for Protecting Windows Files?

What is Basic Security in Windows?

Basic Security in Windows refers to the measures and protocols put in place to protect a Windows operating system from potential threats and attacks. This includes securing user accounts, controlling access to files and folders, and installing antivirus software.

How do I secure my user account in Windows?

To secure your user account in Windows, you should create a strong password that includes a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. You should also enable two-factor authentication if available. Additionally, you should regularly update your password and avoid sharing it with anyone.

What is the importance of controlling access to files and folders in Windows?

Controlling access to files and folders in Windows is important because it allows you to limit who can view, edit, or delete certain files and folders on your computer. This can help protect sensitive information and prevent unauthorized users from accessing your data.

How can I protect my Windows system from viruses and malware?

You can protect your Windows system from viruses and malware by installing and regularly updating antivirus software. You should also be cautious when downloading files or clicking on links from unknown sources, and avoid opening suspicious emails or attachments.

What should I do if I suspect a security threat on my Windows system?

If you suspect a security threat on your Windows system, you should immediately run a full virus scan using your antivirus software. You should also consider changing your passwords and checking for any unusual activity on your accounts. If the threat persists, it is recommended to seek professional assistance.

Similar threads

  • Computing and Technology
2
Replies
69
Views
4K
  • Computing and Technology
Replies
4
Views
3K
  • Special and General Relativity
Replies
13
Views
2K
Replies
14
Views
3K
  • General Discussion
Replies
1
Views
8K
Back
Top