Online File Storage

Published on March 20th, 2013 | by Mark

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Dropbox

A file hosting service that lets you easily share files on all of your devices. You can sync your information on your desktop, laptop or mobile devices so that you can have all your data wherever you are.

Drop the Action

Signing up for a Dropbox account is as easy as can be. By clicking on the sign up button on the Dropbox homepage, you are requested to input your first and last name, a valid email address and a password.  There seem to be no obvious restrictions to the kind of password you can choose and evidently even very simple ones can be used.

On the right side of the password entry field, you will see a four-tiered safety gauge that reflects your passwords perceived complexity.  By hovering your cursor on this gauge you can read some tips that Dropbox suggests to its new users, namely; use uppercase letters, alternative or unusual spellings and a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.

Playing it Safe

On its Help Centre, Dropbox says that it uses modern encryption methods for both transfer and storage of users’ data, including Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and AES-256 bit encryption.

Users can also make use of two-step validation which adds an extra layer of security by requesting a security code to gain access to one’s account.  To enable two-step verification, sign in to the Dropbox website, click on your name at the top-right corner of any page and click Settings on the the menu that opens.  Under the ‘Security’ tab look for the ‘Account sign-in’ section, click Enable next to ‘Two-step verification’.  At this point you will be asked to re-enter your password.

To get the security code you can choose to either download a mobile authenticator app from a list or to receive it directly on your mobile phone by text.

Keeping Your Data Safe

Security settings are very easy to access and configure on Dropbox.  You can find them by clicking on ‘Settings’ from the drop-down menu that appears when you click on your name at the top-right corner of the screen.  Go on the ‘Security’ tab and you are presented with three different sections that relate to your account’s security.

  • The ‘Account sign-in’ section at the top lets you change your password or set up two-step verification.
  • The ‘My devices’ section in the middle shows you all the computers, phone and tablets that are linked to your Dropbox account and gives you an easy way to unlink any devices.
  • Finally, the ‘Web sessions’ section at the bottom shows you all the web browsers that are currently logged in to your Dropbox account as well as the option to end active sessions.

There is also a link to review all the third-party apps that are connected to your account.

Thinking Outside the Box

According to the Dropbox Privacy Policy, any personal data that is collected is used to provide and improve service in order to personalise the user’s experiences and to offer software updates and product announcements.

Dropbox maintains that it does not sell personal information to third parties, but it may share or disclose some information with the user’s consent, for example, to connect a third party application to the account.  Occasionally, Dropbox may also share some information with other companies and individuals that are engaged to help it with providing, analysing, and improving service.

Packing It Up?

Users of Dropbox can delete their account and remove all personal data at any time.  To do so, click on your name at any top-right corner and on the menu that appears click on Settings.  Go on the ‘Account settings’ tab and just underneath the ‘Account preferences’ section there is a link to delete the account.  After you click this link, you will be asked to enter your password and choose a reason for removing the account.

What the Hack?

There have been some reports of Dropbox accounts being allegedly hacked, but there is no firm evidence that supports this so far.  A 2012 news article carried the news that some users were spammed by hackers who stole their addresses by hacking into a Dropbox employee account.

There are several articles online pointing out that there is some risk attached to using Dropbox cloud storage service, however so far there have been no major hacking events.

A Box Big Enough for Two

In its Privacy Policy, Dropbox states that it will share user information with third party applications only upon the user’s consent. Dropbox does not reserve any responsibility of how these applications process the personal information that is shared. It is up to the user’s discretion to review a third party application’s privacy policy and decide whether to trust it with their data.

Keeping An Eye on Your Data

On the ‘Security’ tab in the Settings page, you can access this by clicking on your name at the top-right corner which will then give you access to a list of all active web sessions together with their geo-location and most recent activity.  There is also a link at the bottom of the same page that lets you review all the apps that have been integrated to your Dropbox account and easily revoke access if necessary.

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