Protected Voices: Cloud-Based Services

The FBI’s Protected Voices initiative provides cybersecurity recommendations to political campaigns on multiple topics, including cloud-based services, to help mitigate the risk of cyber influence operations targeting U.S. elections.

Video Transcript

When you use cloud-based services, you’re relying on a third party to keep your sensitive information safe.

Hi, I’m Amy, a special agent with the FBI.

Cloud-based services offer a convenient way to store your data and access that information anywhere through an Internet connection. When you use a cloud-based service provider, you’re outsourcing the burden of maintaining and upgrading software, storage, and other IT infrastructure. 

A secure cloud environment is an effective way to store data and to manage who can access it. Large corporations and the U.S. Department of Defense, among others, use cloud services. One of the benefits of cloud-based services is that they eliminate the need for local servers, which are attractive targets for attackers.

There are basically three ways to configure your system: Set up your own server, use a free third-party service, or use a paid third-party service.

How can you decide the best way to safeguard your campaign’s sensitive information?

When you’re contemplating your options, know what you’re getting into.

If you want a safe place to store your information about campaign strategies, donors, and staffers, and you don’t have a highly trained cyber expert on your campaign staff, you’re generally better off using a reputable cloud service provider rather than trying to build and maintain a server in your campaign office yourself.

Take some time to read the entire end-user license agreement—the fine print—for any cloud service provider you’re considering, whether their services are free or paid. 

Those terms and conditions should spell out what happens to the information you put on the cloud. Will it be collected and sold to third parties? What can the cloud services provider do with your information? Who will have access to your data? How much storage do you need?

It’s generally worth paying for cloud-based services so you can take advantage of better information security and features. A little research should help you find the reputable cloud-based service providers.

Make a point of carefully setting up managerial controls that limit access to trusted managers. Calibrate your settings to ensure your private campaign data remains private and can’t be viewed by just anyone. And make sure access to cloud-based services uses multi-factor authentication—which is the subject of another of our videos on campaign cybersecurity.

Only you can decide the best balance of security, cost, and privacy for your campaign.

There’s no foolproof way to solve all cybersecurity issues. But carefully weighing the pros and cons of where to store your data is an important step.

Remember, your voice matters, so protect it.

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