With the advent of online file sharing services like Dropbox, online users have been able to transfer files conveniently to others either for free or for a fee if storing large amount of data. Yet for all the speed, convenience and accessibility Dropbox has provided us, questions of safety and user privacy abound in any and all online file sharing services. As the industry leader, we look at the ways you can make Dropbox safer and more secure to use.
Security at Dropbox
Dropbox claims to treat user security and privacy as a high priority, with a dedicated security team sustaining the online platform at all times. Yet every time you send data over the internet through a remote server you are at a security risk. Dropbox tries to counteract this by encrypting data and securing tunnel protection. If Dropbox affords such attention to security, then what could be of concern?
Simply put, Dropbox has the ability to decrypt files and view them whenever they want. This is especially concerning if law enforcement agencies are involved. It is also potentially hackable, much like any online platform. Dropbox of course secures its encryption keys in secure locations, but the company also can disclose any and all information to a third party however it wishes. Edward Snowden, the whistleblower, has voiced his own concerns over the service, calling it “hostile to privacy” because of its encryption setup and open willingness to provide data to state agencies. On top of this, Dropbox’s privacy policies show some issues, with data retained, data maintained after deletion, GPS information tracking and potential for personal information to be shared with third-parties like Facebook. With all these potential issues, how then can we make Dropbox more secure?
We recommend the following step to make your Dropbox use more safe, secure and private:
Allow Two-Step Verification
By using two-step verification, unauthorised access to your account is prevented and is available on many popular online services. It allows you to request a login code if someone tries to access your account from an unknown device. You can turn this feature on by clicking the drop down menu and accessing your account’s Settings page. By accessing the security tab, simply “click to enable” under two-step verification. Follow the commands and retain any and all codes it sends you.
Remove Linked Devices
This is especially important if you own an old account with a lot of linked devices. In the security tab, scroll down to devices and cancel (x) those no longer required
Habitually Check Web Sessions
By checking web sessions that have logged into your account, you can assure that nobody has been in your account from a suspicious location or device. This can be found in the security section.
Set Up Email Notifications
Dropbox offers an email service when anything changes with your account, including logins for new browsers and apps. These can be managed in the profile section of your settings menu.
Manage Linked Apps
When you login to Dropbox through an app, Dropbox is able to share your personal information with them. If you have forgotten how you have used your account, it is good practice to view and remove access capabilities for unwanted apps. This can be found in the security settings page.
Consider Using a VPN
This more extreme option is good practice for privacy and security in general. Using a VPN (virtual private network) means that it is far more difficult to track your location as it prevents services like Dropbox from seeing your IP address. Good VPNs are relatively cheap, just don’t use free services as they are notorious for their own data accumulation and privacy issues.
Encrypt Your Own Files
If you want to prevent Dropbox from looking through your files, you could consider encrypting them yourself. There are many companies that offer encryption on the internet, such as Boxcryptor or Cryptomator. These encryption services are generally far more private than Dropbox’s own.