Do you use Dropbox? Tips on file sharing and security

Posted on: November 18th, 2013

Welcome to guest writer, Leia Solanki.

What is Dropbox?

The need for a trusted and reliable file-sharing platform is becoming increasingly crucial for anyone concerned with security. Dropbox is a popular sync and file sharing solution and has quickly been adopted.  It now supports over 100 million active users and 1 billion file uploads per day (

Dropbox’s founder, Drew Houston, created the idea at College, after allegedly repeatedly forgetting his USB flash drive. It wasn’t long after he began using his creation that he realised that it could benefit others (on a mass scale) who encountered similar problems.

Originally, Dropbox did not support centralised admin controls, which put the individual user in charge of file access rules. Although some IT controls were added to Dropbox for Business at a later stage, it still lacks many important features required to monitor files, documents, or users, not to mention policies to control them; which undoubtedly sets alarm bells ringing in the ears of any security focused businessman or woman.

What You May Not Know…

Since its launch in June 2007, and following numerous reports on the products flaws, it has increasingly become problematic for IT support departments – as outlined below.

  • Dropbox is unable to tell you where your data is or how your data is transferred. Dropbox uses the ‘rent-a-server’ approach and relies on Amazon S3 store to transfer your files. Relying on a third party arguably increases the risk of a  security breach.
  • It can’t keep your Dropbox account’s registered e-mail or your data safe from hackers. Dropbox users are still receiving reams of spam to their Dropbox specific emails after a data breach last August. In the second breach, an employee’s Dropbox account was hacked and a file containing sensitive customer contact details was stolen.
  • Dropbox can’t control who can view, download, edit, or delete folders or files once they have been shared through the sync folder, all deletions and changes are propagated to everyone.
  • It can’t provide HIPAA compliance for businessmen or women that need to work with medical records or personally identifiable information.
  • And finally, it can’t support Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Mobile Application Management (MAM) security policies – which is increasingly important with businesspeople who are on the go.

I spoke to Richard Smith, Founder and MD of Tegen Ltd (an outsourced IT services, support and Cloud solutions company) about issues of data security associated with Dropbox and Cloud sharing.  He explained that: “People are at risk if they do not invest in a reliable file hosting service, anyone who collects and uses data should understand the potential consequences should a breach in security occur.”

Large organisations such as IBM also take a strong approach to limiting the threat of internal and external breaches in security. Ivan Milman, IBM Security and Governance Architects, suggests that we view data as a mixed blessing: “Data is a two-sided coin: it creates value, but it also represents a significant potential liability. Minimizing that liability in a cost-effective way is what Data Security is all about.” (

The Cloud Has a Silver Lining

As a Cloud sharing solution, Dropbox isn’t all bad. Many people continue to find it useful. Richard Smith outlines its positives below.

  • Dropbox is always available. No matter what device used, it is always accessible and users can always get into their account from anywhere.
  • It is easy to use in terms of navigation and ease. Sharing files with groups is a good feature adopted by Dropbox.
  • File synchronisation is very easy, after the document has been uploaded.
  • Dropbox provides many applications that could be considered, useful. They are also accessible on any device.
  • Dropbox shows all the history of your files. However, please note that you are unable to restore most deleted folders and files.

As technology advances, so does the growth in use of mobile devices. Being able to access documents from Cloud storage is a must for most freelancers and business execs who are frequently on the move.  The good thing about these Cloud-based solutions is that they are off-premise, meaning that the user has a direct backup of the file (should anything happen) without the need for assistance from an external source. 

Tegen’s Advice?

Whilst the free version of Dropbox is easy to use, good advice would be to consider your priorities in terms of trust and reliability and to explore other Cloud based storage solutions.

For example, Soonr enables you to securely access and share files with others from any mobile device or desktop workplace.  It is also trusted by more than 140,000 businesses worldwide. Soonr Workplace and Soonr Enterprise is the leading Secure Online File Sharing and Collaboration service that balances the ease of use desired by end-users with the security and control, and is a good alternative to Dropbox. 

Anyone using Soonr would benefit from it by weighing up the risks of using a free service such as Dropbox. Although you have to pay for a secure enterprise service such as Soonr, think about how the costs may be worth it in the long haul. Soonr enterprise is designed to deliver secure file sharing and collaboration services to mobile individuals, teams, and organisations for improved productivity so you can do your business faster.

Leia Solanki is a Marketing Executive and Writer for Tegen Ltd. Tegen is a leading IT managed services and support provider, who deliver IT management, support, outsourced IT services and Cloud solutions to all business sectors across London and the South-East. For more information, visit Tegen’s website:

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