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Does anyone use Dropbox?

Does anyone use Dropbox?

... it must be a morning for questions!

I also have an issue of all my client data being on my 'home office' PC and, now I have my 'proper' office, will need access there too - is something like Dropbox the answer so I can 'see' the files (and, more importantly, make changes to them) wherever I am?

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By occca
12th May 2012 09:35

Go for it

It's a great system for sharing files - we use it across offices

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By Hansa
12th May 2012 09:38

Dropbox insecure

I use Dropbox and have done for 3 years.  However be aware it is NOT secure and the servers are US based (thus minimal privacy).  Their staff CAN access your files and thus give them to others.  ... only for info etc, not client files.  Very easy to use.

Far better is Wuala.com.  Swiss company and all files encrypted at your end so they cannot be read or accessed from the servers.  More fiddly to set up.

I use the paid for offerings of both companies.

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Tornado
12th May 2012 09:42

@Hansa

Hansa wrote:

I use Dropbox and have done for 3 years.  However be aware it is NOT secure and the servers are US based (thus minimal privacy).  Their staff CAN access your files and thus give them to others.  ... only for info etc, not client files.  Very easy to use.

Far better is Wuala.com.  Swiss company and all files encrypted at your end so they cannot be read or accessed from the servers.  More fiddly to set up.

I use the paid for offerings of both companies.

... hmmm, interesting what you say, although it does seem to be at odds with the Dropbox security policy in that 'employees are prohibited from viewing the content of your files' - and I think in all honesty I'd rather use a service that I'd heard of than one I hadn't but it will be interesting to hear other views too of course...

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12th May 2012 09:51

Dropbox is great and can be accessed from iPad, BlackBerry and Android as well - use it myself and I'd recommend it for this, but you might consider the alternatives too.  Google Drive in particular, and MS Skydrive.  This Guardian article will give you a start:

Google Drive versus Dropbox and the rest: cloud storage compared

David Terrar

D2C & Cloud Advocates

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12th May 2012 09:50

I like Dropbox too...

...simple to set up, works well.  One caveat I would point out is that it may not be ideal for 'collaborative' stuff, such as spreadsheets to be worked on by more than one of you. If changes are made simultaneously, the first person to finish 'wins' and the other person's efforts are saved in a separate file. It doesn't merge them. Not a lot of use, but, to be fair, I don't think Dropbox is touted as a collaborative tool, unlike, say, Google Docs. I just made an unwarranted assumption!

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By Hansa
12th May 2012 11:30

Dropbox security

I in turn am surprised at the OP's response regarding security, in particular "... it does seem to be at odds with the Dropbox security policy in that 'employees are prohibited from viewing... etc"

First, in the words of Mandy Rice-Davis "They would say that wouldn't they" AND it doesn't say they can't, only that they shouldn't.

Second, Dropbox has come in for immense criticism because they both lied to customers and because of numerous security breaches.

May I suggest the following article as being worth reading.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/05/internet_security

Finally, a google seach on "Drop box security" might make those saving confidential files on Dropbox think again.  It's great for granny's photos, not for business and very probably breaks Data Protection rules.

 

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12th May 2012 11:11

@Hansa

... OK, I have to admit having been researching this for most of the morning it does appear that Dropbox has a few security issues by the look of it, which is not good news if you want to be accessing client data.

I have also been looking at Spideroak as well but, again, this has got mixed reviews.

I guess security is the main concern with this sort of thing, so maybe next I will do a bit of research on Wuala as you suggest.

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By JC
12th May 2012 11:46

Quite correct on security ..

@Hansa is quite correct on security and this has been addressed many times already on Aweb

Unfortunately because of the seach facility no-one can really look up anything with confidence on Aweb, so a great proportion of very valuable resources goes untapped

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12th May 2012 12:53

... it looks like...
... from a security aspect, Wuala or SpiderOak are the main choices...

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12th May 2012 13:08

Livedrive

I use this, works very well.

Livedrive

 

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By mumpin
12th May 2012 13:29

memory stick ?

I keep all my data files on a memory stick.

I copy it to an old laptop once a week.

You're going to want to use Tax Return software, Payroll software etc. How would they interact with dropbox? With a memory stick you just point the software at it in settings. I work from an office and home. Have 150+ clients. 8Gb stick isn't even half full and also has all my MS Office files on it - 7 years worth.

Hope I'm not revealing myself to be hopelessly anachronistic here...

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exceljockey
18th May 2012 20:46

i used to do exactly the same as u but within a couple of days my laptop crashed and burnt and my back up stick frazzled  (which they can do at any time for no reason ) so cloud back up for me is the answer after a horrendous learning curve!

 

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johnjenkins
18th May 2012 20:48

i mean same as....

above thread that says just backs up on memory stick and laptop...

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12th May 2012 13:53

Also consider
You might also consider:-

Box.com

And

Livedrive.com

Captain

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12th May 2012 14:36

Dropbox Fan

I'm a great dropbox fan. with the added file protection feature for backup.

Re dataprotection, when I last looked into it Dropbox was hosted on Amazon web services who in turn have a EU/UK safe harbour agreement, which, as I recall, ensures in principle compliance with DP regulations.

The confidentiality issue re files on dropbox has been raised before.  Given the amount of data on Dropbox, needles and haystacks comes to mind.  I'll take my chances with a clear conscience!

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Kevkava
12th May 2012 14:39

@girlofwight

girlofwight wrote:

I'm a great dropbox fan. with the added file protection feature for backup.

Re dataprotection, when I last looked into it Dropbox was hosted on Amazon web services who in turn have a EU/UK safe harbour agreement, which, as I recall, ensures in principle compliance with DP regulations.

The confidentiality issue re files on dropbox has been raised before.  Given the amount of data on Dropbox, needles and haystacks comes to mind.  I'll take my chances with a clear conscience!

... interesting, I must admit researching the internet this morning Dropbox seems by FAR the most popular solution - surely they must have fixed the security issues by now... or you would have thought so anyway?

... am thinking 45 million users can't be wrong... or can they?

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By Hansa
stepurhan
12th May 2012 18:25

Two answers in one

jaybee661 wrote:

girlofwight wrote:

Re dataprotection, when I last looked into it Dropbox was hosted on Amazon web services who in turn have a EU/UK safe harbour agreement, which, as I recall, ensures in principle compliance with DP regulations.

The confidentiality issue re files on dropbox has been raised before.  Given the amount of data on Dropbox, needles and haystacks comes to mind.  I'll take my chances with a clear conscience!

... interesting, I must admit researching the internet this morning Dropbox seems by FAR the most popular solution - surely they must have fixed the security issues by now... or you would have thought so anyway?

... am thinking 45 million users can't be wrong... or can they?

A couple of points to address I think

The main difference between Dropbox (and fellow travellers) and Wuala et al is encryption.  Dropbox files are unencrypted and are thus readable on the server whereas Wuala encrypts at your end.The "Safe Harbour" agreement is a fudge - they (Dropbox/Amazon et al) allow others to access their servers and "require" those others to "abide by the principles" of said agreement".  At such a remove I would humbly contend that this is meaningless drivel.The US "Patriot Act" allows any number of US "agencies" to demand your information "on request" and without a warrant.  You may say "so what" but lets say one of your clients is an on-line bookmaker - perfectly legal in the UK but not America.  Data relating to this client could be abstracted from your records unknown to you.As recently as 6 weeks ago, ALL Dropbox records were open for all to see for over 4 hours (no password needed).Can 45 million users be wrong?  Of course ... just think of the number of people to have put very private information onto Facebook and later regretted it!  More to the point Dropbox is not really intended as a business file repository, just look at their website with references to storing your "stuff" - I think it is really intended for photos, videos, personal documents and the like. 

Use it for business at your peril if any of your client files are private.  

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Cloudcounter
12th May 2012 18:46

@Hansa

Hansa wrote:

Use it for business at your peril if any of your client files are private.  

... so if you dislike it so much why have you used it for 3 years?

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By Hansa
johngroganjga
12th May 2012 19:24

What I use Dropbox for

jaybee661 wrote:

Hansa wrote:

Use it for business at your peril if any of your client files are private.  

... so if you dislike it so much why have you used it for 3 years?

I didn't say I dislike it.  It is what it is! - an insecure but very useful cloud service for synchronising non-confidential data 

As you ask so politely, I'll tell you what I use (and used) it for.

Initially (up to the furore last June) it was used for general business files as I (along with many others) believed the then privacy policy which stated that "no files could be accessed without your consent and were stored encrypted".  We have more than one office in different countries and the service was both easy to use and a Godsend (replacing all those inter-office emails with attachments).  A client then drew my attention to the security issues which I researched. I also, at the same time,  got into direct correspondence with a Computer Journalist (Jon Honeyball a contributor to PC Pro for many years) who reminded me of both the Patriot Act implications, and the fact that Dropbox uses Amazon's S3 server system - and Amazon is not a company I (or Mr Honeyball) would trust with private/client data.

I then signed up with Wuala last June, initially the free offering, found it worked well, and took one of their paid for packages in early July 2011.

Almost all business data (and especially client data) was transferred to Wuala (50gb or so) and I now use Dropbox for things like: -

a) Company information sheets, brochures, and other non-sensitive data

b) Personal photos & videos

c) Website back-ups (we have several sites)

d) The odd email backup file (pre-encrypted with TruCrypt) 

e) Temporarily, the odd film or TV programme I want to transfer to a remote location 

Dropbox IS easier to use and possibly more stable (eg with a poor Internet connection), Wuala however creates a "network drive" which is very useful as we can use it for database files saved directly to the virtual drive (it has not corrupted once yet).

... Horses for courses.

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12th May 2012 14:43

Log me in

Why not use log me in or the like.

I can access my pc and therefore all files on the server, payroll software and Iris.

Runs ever so slightly slower than being in the office but works well from home. Also while at clients you can log on using their wifi to access anything you may need, or take what you need on a memory stick.

 

Just an option

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12th May 2012 18:23

Agree with security concerns but...

Dropbox is the leader in this field, and easy to use.  I use it for personal files and don't see it as a risk (my holiday photos probably aren't that valuable to a hacker anyway).

However client files is a different matter.  You are legally responsible for protecting them and, as per the Information Commissioners web site, if you are transfering personal data, they expect it to be encrypted.  Whilst you may perceive the risk to be low - your clients may not be so comfortable with using Dropbox to hold their personal details.

If you want to use Dropbox I would try combining it with TruCrypt, so the files are encrypted before they are uploaded.   There is a good how-to article here - http://lifehacker.com/5794486/how-to-add-a-second-layer-of-encryption-to-dropbox

We aer currently looking at an alternative to Dropbox that addresses these concerns and comes with encryption - however the product is not yet publically available (it's still in development).  When it arrives I think it will address the exact situation the OP is in.

PS - If you use USB sticks to transfer the data instead then these should also be encrypted.

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Portia Nina Levin
18th May 2012 20:51

photos....

jonstanton wrote:

Dropbox is the leader in this field, and easy to use.  I use it for personal files and don't see it as a risk (my holiday photos probably aren't that valuable to a hacker anyway).

However client files is a different matter.  You are legally responsible for protecting them and, as per the Information Commissioners web site, if you are transfering personal data, they expect it to be encrypted.  Whilst you may perceive the risk to be low - your clients may not be so comfortable with using Dropbox to hold their personal details.

If you want to use Dropbox I would try combining it with TruCrypt, so the files are encrypted before they are uploaded.   There is a good how-to article here - http://lifehacker.com/5794486/how-to-add-a-second-layer-of-encryption-to-dropbox

We aer currently looking at an alternative to Dropbox that addresses these concerns and comes with encryption - however the product is not yet publically available (it's still in development).  When it arrives I think it will address the exact situation the OP is in.

PS - If you use USB sticks to transfer the data instead then these should also be encrypted.

 

your holiday photos may be of interest to some evil hackers if they have your children on them! never put pics of kids on internet -advise from a cid officer who deals with these kind of people :(

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12th May 2012 19:29

@Hansa
... so would you say it was safe to hold client information on Wuala?

I did have a look at it this morning and it did look very good, as did SpiderOak.

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By Hansa
12th May 2012 19:38

Yes, I do think Wuala's safe for client data
In fact, so safe, that on computers that regularly leave the office(s) we use ONLY the virtual drive ... in other words, nothing is stored on the local computer. yet, on log in, Wuala is available and any file can be accessed.

PS I don't work for Wuala!

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12th May 2012 19:55

Cut all the cr*p and just do it

I've been using dropbox for years and all "my docs" are on it, anything I need to secure is passworded and, let's be honest, as per girlofwight, I can live with the risk (but then I'm only an accountant on the outside).

Once you use it you'll chuck away all your memory sticks and realise how much more confusing life was before it.

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nogammonsinanundoubledgame
12th May 2012 19:59

@Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes wrote:

I've been using dropbox for years and all "my docs" are on it, anything I need to secure is passworded and, let's be honest, as per girlofwight, I can live with the risk (but then I'm only an accountant on the outside).

Once you use it you'll chuck away all your memory sticks and realise how much more confusing life was before it.

... thanks for that Paul, I have to say out of all of them Dropbox looks the coolest (though I know that's not everything!) and (forgive my ignorance) is it easy enough to password files?

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12th May 2012 20:15

... a general point...
I was just thinking that even if, as Hansa seems to think, Dropbox isn't TOTALLY secure and employees COULD look at it, are they REALLY going to be interested in how much, for example, my hairdresser client spent on stock in a financial year? And surely carrying a laptop around would be classed as the same securiy risk anyway? Just a thought, but, as people are saying, Dropbox IS the most popular.

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12th May 2012 20:17

Hi jaybee
I password from within word, excel, pdf or sometimes winzip, ie there's no pw facility within DB.

One of the best uses is where clients have to send over lots of files in bits & pieces, say if we do their books, so they just dump them into a shared folder over the month and then email me when they are done.

Iv'e managed to stay well within the free limits and have built up more space than I need by recommending other people to sign up.

PS to any I've offended with my heading, sorry, but there's more risk from using email, using an ATM or filling up your car and paying with plastic.

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By Hansa
MM Bookkeeping Services
12th May 2012 21:49

Final thought.

Paul Scholes wrote:

. . . but there's more risk from using email, using an ATM or filling up your car and paying with plastic.

Perhaps, although I use VPN for email, so between my computer and the mail server it's safe.

However, the other examples (ATM's & credit  card use) are a risk to you and your pocket only.  If someone clones your cash or credit card only you will suffer and even then you'll probably be refunded.  

If your client's data is compromised or stolen, it is you who will be blamed (and rightly).   As JonStanton said earlier, there is a presumption/obligation that data carried on USB sticks, or sent to Cloud services is encrypted.   

Personally, I take risks on my own behalf that I would never take on behalf of a client!  Unencrypted remote data storage is one such.

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MM Bookkeeping Services
12th May 2012 23:00

@Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes wrote:
I password from within word, excel, pdf or sometimes winzip, ie there's no pw facility within DB. One of the best uses is where clients have to send over lots of files in bits & pieces, say if we do their books, so they just dump them into a shared folder over the month and then email me when they are done. Iv'e managed to stay well within the free limits and have built up more space than I need by recommending other people to sign up. PS to any I've offended with my heading, sorry, but there's more risk from using email, using an ATM or filling up your car and paying with plastic.

... clear, honest, concise and to the point... thanks Paul, your advice is excellent... actually, after reading your post, suddenly thought a client sends me a spreadsheet file every week via email, which quite often doesn't work properly, so Dropbox would be PERFECT for such instances, and I know that will please my client too... thank you!

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By Locutus
12th May 2012 23:00

Similar view to Paul Scholes
I've been using Dropbox for my own personal files and client files for years. Any really sensitive Excel / Word documents are password protected. The US Government would not be remotely interested in any of my clients and there would be no real value that I can think of to a Dropbox employee. Since there are x million other users of Dropbox I think there is far more valuable information to be stolen. The reality is that most accountancy practices are at far, far greater risk of having their data stolen by their own employees.

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DJKL
12th May 2012 23:10

@0103953

0103953 wrote:
I've been using Dropbox for my own personal files and client files for years. Any really sensitive Excel / Word documents are password protected. The US Government would not be remotely interested in any of my clients and there would be no real value that I can think of to a Dropbox employee. Since there are x million other users of Dropbox I think there is far more valuable information to be stolen. The reality is that most accountancy practices are at far, far greater risk of having their data stolen by their own employees.

... another great point, my mind has certainly been put at ease as far as Dropbox goes, thanks people...

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By JC
13th May 2012 12:19

Search Google for ...

Find Word password / Find excel password

So easily recoverable/crackable that these passwords are fairly useless and to rely on them as a security measure rather than simply a hinderance is deluded

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13th May 2012 16:55

I've been using dropbox for years

But then again I don't have client files any more.

Recently an accountant who needs to share some files with me (and others) has invited me to use SugarSynch which he seems keen on.  I'm unclear as to the relative benefits/disadvantages over Dropbox or any of the others listed above - so far as accountants are concerned anyway.

Mark

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14th May 2012 10:05

dropbox is fab

There is bound to be more adverse comments with dropbox as it is used by so many people.

If you have particularly sensitive data, encrypt it before you put it up there (or on a laptop).

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17th May 2012 13:01

Thanks for some great advice

A really intersesting thread, everybody. Thanks to jaybee for raising what seems to be an important issue for other members, and for all the stimulating responses.

@JC - I have to admit you've got a good point there about our search facility. But I just did a search for "Dropbox security" that did produce some relevant results. We're very conscious that the engine we're using misses out many of the comments and discussion threads on the site and have it on our priority list for immprovements. But we're one of 10 different communities within the Sift Media portfolio and have to wait our turn for technical work.

Until we can bolt a much better search engine into the site, we share your frustration, but will work as hard as we can to make more of the archived wisdom within AccountingWEB visible to members. One (small) thing we are trying to do is make more use of the built-in tagging system, so the following URL will take you to more resources on IT security:

http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/category/tags/security

At the moment, articles and news items have visible tags at the bottom that you can click to get to the relevant index page, and we could make a case for including them in Any Answers). But if you're in Any Answers and curious, you can try hunting out possibilities that may already be there, eg:

http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/category/tags/dropbox

That's all we can offer at the moment, but we take feedback like this very seriously.

 

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18th May 2012 10:37

Dropbox for backup
We use MS Small Business Server 2011 and although we backup the server to USB drives using windows backup it would seem desirable to have it in the ether as well. Is Dropbox a viable tool for server backup?

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18th May 2012 10:41

Sharing

Another point on Dropbox, you need to be very careful who you share folders with.  The person you have shared with can then share with others so you no longer have control over who accesses those files.

 

Maybe it is just me, but I initally thought if I set up a folder and invited someone to share it, I was only inviting them, not inviting them to invite others!

 

 

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schocca
19th May 2012 11:03

Sharing security

 

The same feature operates on Google drive - I had thought folders shared were specfic to me and the invitee but then realised that security settings defaults to giving the other person complete access, including the ability for them to share with others.  Perhaps you can adjust these as I know you can in google.  

 

 

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By bocsta
18th May 2012 13:02

Office 365 and you get your mail synced as well plus other good stuff....But you pay for what you get

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By chatman
18th May 2012 20:25

Would have used Wuala but too late now
I have been using Dropbox for a few months. If I had read this thread first, I would have used Wuala instead, but now I just can't face moving everything again, especially as some of my clients share files with me using Dropbox and I would have to change my filing system for them.

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By Hansa
rememberscarborough
20th May 2012 21:51

Chatman - not as onerous as you think

chatman wrote:
I have been using Dropbox for a few months. If I had read this thread first, I would have used Wuala instead, but now I just can't face moving everything again, especially as some of my clients share files with me using Dropbox and I would have to change my filing system for them.

Take it from me (I started with DB in 2009 and started with Wuala in 2011) that it is NOT difficult to change.

1. Keep both Wuala & DB

2. Apart from a chunk of time (in my case 24 hours) to upload to Wuala having COPIED (not moved your files) you'll have a duel system running in 48 hours.

3. Keep your clients sending files to DB BUT move anything confidential to Wuala

I have a secretary/Administrator based in another country and set her up with DB (she is incapable of the simplest IT procedure) so we have kept her on a shared DB.  Everything potentially confidential or client related (mostly incoming mail) is moved same month to Wuala (her routine work is not particularly confidential so I'm happy with this compromise).

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By chatman
TessaW
21st May 2012 09:15

Move from DB to Wuala

@Hansa - Thanks for the tips. Don't you find it confusing using both, or do you use DB simply for file transfers?

@hcwesterveld - I got specific permission; they didn't seem to mind at all.

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By Hansa
_Dot_
21st May 2012 17:32

Feeling of deja vu.

chatman wrote:

@Hansa - Thanks for the tips. Don't you find it confusing using both, or do you use DB simply for file transfers?

No, not confusing.   Client & confidential data is kept exclusively on Wuala (or moved there soon after being deposited into DB).  DB has it's uses for NON client/confidential data (see my posts on 12 May).

The discussion concerning whether DB is either "safe" or "compliant" has been raised again, with reference to the Safe Harbo(u)r agreement ....

Again, I refer those concerned to my posts of 12 May and in particular my comment that:-

"The "Safe Harbour" agreement is a fudge - they (Dropbox/Amazon et al) allow others to access their servers and "require" those others to "abide by the principles" of said agreement".  At such a remove I would humbly contend that this is meaningless drivel." 

At the risk of being boring, DB is great at what it is/does ... easy to use but insecure cloud storage.  It is NOT suitable (or acceptable in data protection terms) for client and/or very confidential data as it is not encrypted on the cloud server.

If a client, for convenience puts HIS data onto DB, that's fine but you should move it (to Wuala for example) before working on it.  This analogous to a client sending a file, unwrapped, to you in the back of a taxi ... his problem, but you wouldn't leave the very same file "open" in your reception . . . would you?

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19th May 2012 13:56

External Hard Drive

If you don't want to trust the "cloud", carry your files with you.  If a memory stick is too small, get an external hard drive.  They are not expensive, plug into a USB port, and can have a huge capacity.

Just make sure you back it up in the office, and think about encrypting it.

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20th May 2012 13:04

Microsoft Office 365 is secure and for £4 per month you get a huge range of services plus 10Gb of secure starage that you can access from anywhere with an internet connection.

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21st May 2012 07:50

STOP PRESS: what about data protection laws?
Looking at ICON's data protection principles, especially principle 7 and 8, I would argue you can not use DB for client files (unless they give you permission to do so?):

Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data. (how you prevent someone using your DB files?)

Personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data.(server in the US?)

http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/data_protection/the_guide/the_pr...

I need to review my web storage.......

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21st May 2012 10:17

DB and storing data outside the EU

DropBox uses Amazon S3 storage to store the data.

Amazon S3 storage is located on servers in the US and in EEA (Ireland) and other locations.

If you use Amazon S3 storage directly yourself your data is located in the EEA if you are in the EEA to comply with EU data protection laws and US restriction on encrypted data.

I had assumed the dropbox does the same, but it is not clear.

 

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By Locutus
21st May 2012 14:07

Dropbox an EU privacy regulations

Dropbox are apparently certified as a US-EU "safe habour"

https://www.dropbox.com/help/238

This explains what the "International Safe Habour Privacy Principles" are: -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Safe_Harbor_Privacy_Principles

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21st May 2012 21:43

@hansa

Dropbox data IS encrypted on their server. The difference is that though most dropbox employees do not have access to the encryption keys, a very small number do. They will, on production of a warrant unencrypt the data and supply it to the authorities. 

Is this really very diffferent from police getting a search warrant and removing computers from an office ?

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