Tag Archive: Dropbox

BitTorrent’s Secure Dropbox Alternative Goes Public

BitTorrent Inc. has opened up its Sync app to the public today. The new application is free of charge and allows people to securely sync folders to multiple devices using the BitTorrent protocol. Complete control over the storage location of the files and the absence of limits is what sets BitTorrent’s solution apart from traditional cloud based synchronization services.

Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive and Mega are just a few examples of the many file-storage and backup services that are available today.

All these services rely on external cloud based hosting to back up and store files. This means that you have to trust these companies with your personal and confidential files, and that your storage space is limited.

For those people who want to be in control of their own data there haven’t been many alternatives, but BitTorrent Sync has the potential to trigger a small revolution on this front.

BitTorrent Sync’s functionality is comparable to services such as Dropbox and Skydrive, except for the fact that there’s no cloud involved. Users sync the files between their own computers and no third-party has access to it.

Besides increased security, BitTorrent sync transfers also tend to go a lot faster than competing cloud services. Another advantage is that there are no storage or transfer limits, so users can sync as many files as they want, for free.

Earlier this year BitTorrent started a closed Alpha test with a limited number of users, and today Sync is being released to the public for the first time.

“We’re really excited about opening up this Alpha. The feedback has been universally positive. Those in the closed Alpha have already synced more than 200TB since we started the program,” BitTorrent announces.

Over the past weeks many improvements have been made to the Sync application, prompted by user feedback. Among other things it is now possible to allow one-way synchronization and to exclude files or directories from being shared.

While Sync uses BitTorrent technology, people’s files are not accessible to outsiders. Only those who have the unique private key can access the shared folder.

“All the traffic is encrypted using a private key derived from the shared secret. Your files can be viewed and received only by the people with whom you share your private secret,” BitTorrent explains.

To increase security, the latest Sync version also has the option to let the secret key expire after a day so new devices can’t be added, even if outsiders have the private key.

BitTorrent stresses that Sync is still in Alpha development but tests carried out by TorrentFreak confirm that it works very well. It is an ideal tool for people who want to share large amounts of data between computers without going through third-party services.

The application is also surprisingly easy to configure. There’s no need to create an account and it only takes a few clicks to get going.

The Sync application is available for Windows, OSX, Linux and has the ability run on NAS devices through a web-interface. Readers who are interested in giving it a spin can head over to BitTorrent labs, where the Sync app can be downloaded.

Download BitTorrent Sync for Windows here.
Download BitTorrent Sync for Mac 10.6 or newer here.

Source: TorrentFreak

Dropbox drops a critical update, software wide open to hackers

Today sees Dropbox release a security update that plugs up a serious security vulnerability in the client software.

Prior to this update, all a third party needed to do to gain access to someone’s Dropbox account was to copy the Dropbox configuration files from one PC to another. These configuration files could be copied directly from the PC or extracted from a system backup. Once in possession of these files, the third-party had total access to the Dropbox account even if the user changed their password. The only way to revoke access was to unlink the rogue system from the account using the account setting page over on the Dropbox website.

Dropbox version 1.2.48 fixes this serious vulnerability. However, because the client software can take several weeks to auto update, you have to carry out the procedure manually.

If you’re a Dropbox user I strongly urge you to install this update immediately!

Source: ZDNet

Convenience over privacy: Is Dropbox watching you?

Like many others, I use Dropbox to synchronize files among my computers and iPad. Dropbox is especially useful when traveling, as I often do.

Lately, a kerfuffle has emerged regarding the company’s terms of service, which include particularly onerous language:

“You grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent reasonably necessary for the Service.”

This statement says the company can use your data pretty much as it chooses, a position that the next sentence attempts to mitigate:

This license is solely to enable us to technically administer, display, and operate the Services.

That last sentence qualifies the core issue by saying they can only use your data to operate their service. However, this language is ambiguous and therefore subject to interpretation. For example, perhaps Dropbox will want to scan your files to provide context-sensitive ads like Google. That would certainly fit within the definition of “technically administering” the service, as would many other activities that you may or may not find acceptable.

Advice to enterprise buyers: Dropbox offers a great service and useful free accounts, which is an attractive combination. Unfortunately, the terms of service do not offer adequate protections against sensitive data. For this reason, I suggest you discontinue use of the product for applications where privacy and confidentiality are mission critical.

In practice, however, Dropbox is unlikely to read your “stuff” or prepare derivative works, despite what’s in the terms of service. Therefore, continue using Dropbox for everyday file transfers where you value convenience over an absolute guarantee of privacy.

Source: ZDNet / Michael Krigsman