How private is Dropbox, the popular cloud storage and file syncing service? Not as private as it could be, for sure. But the platform’s developers have been taking steps recently to beef up the service’s security and privacy protections, namely by adding more robust authentication options.
To Dropbox or Not to Dropbox?
If you’re super-serious about keeping your cloud-based data private, you should probably steer clear of Dropbox. It encrypts your data, but the information is still visible to people working for Dropbox who have access to the encryption keys — as well as to hackers who get hold of them by nefarious means.
Plus, Dropbox’s control over your data means the government or other authorities could force the company to reveal your information to them without your permission.
For totally private cloud-based storage, we think Seafile is a much better option. With Seafile, your data is encrypted before you upload it, with keys known only to you — meaning no one at Seafile or anyone else can read your information, even if they want to.
Making Dropbox More Private
That said, Dropbox is a pretty user-friendly cloud storage service. Its low pricing terms — which including a fairly decent amount of space available for free — also make it attractive. For data that you don’t need to keep ultra-private, Dropbox’s price and convenience could make it a good enough trade-off for your needs.
And it’s becoming marginally better in light of recent efforts by the company that owns Dropbox to increase security.
The biggest change is the announcement of support for USB-based two-factor authentication (U2F). That means users can combine password protection of their data with an authentication process that requires access to a specific physical device in order to unlock information.
Dropbox has also been talking up security and privacy lately. To be sure, talk is only talk until there’s action behind it. But the fact that the company seems eager to shed the image it formerly acquired as weak on privacy is certainly not a bad thing.
Add to that the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s recent endorsement of Dropbox, and the service looks better than ever from a privacy perspective — though, again, we still recommend looking elsewhere if need absolutely air-tight data privacy.