Monday, April 11, 2011

Cloud backup and file sharing

Last week I noted a number of different free or low-cost tools that help a new business to get started at minimal cost. Here's another that should be on the list: online backup and file sharing tools.

The idea is to store some of your information in the 'cloud' so that it's backed-up off your local machine; you can get to your stuff from other machines when travelling if you can get to a web browser; and you can potentially share your files with other collaborators. Useful.

Possibly the best-recognised name in the business is Dropbox: simple to set up and to invite others to access your shared files and the 2Gb storage space option is free of charge. However, I'm concerned that insecurity is built in to its design. Anyone can potentially access your Dropbox files; you won't know they're doing it; and you can't stop them, even if you change your password.

Update: There is further confirmation here that Dropbox is insecure.

(Dropbox uses a 'config.db' file that contains a 'host_id' - either can easily be read or copied from your phone, laptop or other computer connected to your Dropbox account, whether that's your device or one belonging to someone you've shared some of your Dropbox space with ... Copying this information to a new computer immediately connects the new device to your Dropbox space, without notifying you; and even changing your password for Dropbox isn't sufficient to fix this issue...)

So, a much better solution could be SpiderOak: also free of charge for 2Gb of space, but automatically encrypting your files for you, on your desktop, before uploading them to the cloud.

What do you think? How important is it to you to take basic security precautions with your information?
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