Dropbox Security and the Latest Controversy

As any tech savvy individual knows, backing up your data on an external hard drive or with an online file storage service is essential. With gigabytes of music, documents, files, data, etc., losing all of that material just because your computer crapped out on you can be truly devastating. While traditional external hard drives have their advantages because they are yours to handle and maintain, online services are becoming ever more popular. Online storage services allow you to access your data from any location or device with internet access.

This can be extremely useful and convenient in several different situations. However, of course, with your entire computer’s content sitting in the cloud, there are certain security risks to be considered.

Dropbox is one of the most popular data storage systems in the cloud. With over 25 million users, Dropbox has certainly been doing several things right. Users receive two gigs of data storage for free when they sign up with Dropbox for the first time. With every referral that a user makes to a friend, they will receive up to eight gigs of free storage. So, with free online storage in the cloud, Dropbox quickly became a highly sought after service. Used by writers, musicians, artists, students, and professionals Dropbox offers the ability to safely store any data you wish and then access it from the palm or your hand, on the bus to work, or when you are away on vacation. Until very recently, Dropbox were the golden boys of Silicon Valley startups, winning several awards for entrepreneurship, programming, and technology.

In the summer of 2011, Dropbox began receiving widespread criticism for its encryption policies. Encryption is used on files in the cloud and on the internet to protect them from being compromised to malicious users. Encryption converts data into a code that is unreadable to those with malicious intent. It came to public attention that Dropbox files are unencrypted for Dropbox employers. This enables Dropbox to more easily move around and store your files, making their service run more quickly and smoothly for you. However, having these files unencrypted to Dropbox employees puts the data at some level of risk. For users who save their entire lives in their Dropbox account, including their social security information, bank information, account usernames and passwords, tax information, and more, any level of risk can be extremely worrisome.

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For the most part, Dropbox’s unencryption policy shouldn’t be too much of a worry for the average user. The only real trouble this can cause is if the government asks Dropbox to show them the contents of your account and you have gigs upon gigs of illegally downloaded music, videos, etc. The main complaint against Dropbox at this time is that they failed to properly inform users about their encryption policies. Many feel betrayed because the Terms of Service agreement does not clearly state what their encryption policies are and some even feel that the terms are misleading. If you want to be angry with Dropbox for not being completely clear with you, that is fair. However, people really shouldn’t feel threatened by the security measures in place with Dropbox. With cloud technology becoming the latest craze, we can’t ensure that our data is absolutely safe with anyone. It’s just a risk that accompanies the convenience of the cloud.


This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey,

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