Posts tagged DropBox

Dropbox For Business Gives Control Freaks What They Want

Dropbox announced a slew of updates that offer more control over shared work files and new tools for app developers.

The changes allow for more fine-tuned access control over who can view or edit documents, and for how long, as well as improved search and new APIs, so app makers can interact with shared Dropbox For Business docs.

These are welcome changes for the 80,000 paying companies on Dropbox’s client list. And they may help quell critics who have been complaining about Dropbox’s lack of attention to security and administration.

Locking Down The Box

Last April, Dropbox rattled the business cloud-storage world when it expanded its popular personal service into the work world. It made sense on the surface. Individuals were using its online file storage in their personal lives. In the era of “bring your own device” to work, of course they’d want to use it in their jobs too.

Since then, the outstanding issue for Dropbox has been security. Critics pointed out that sensitive business information is not the same as cat photos or dinner recipes. Sharing has to be locked down and managed better at work. The system also needs to be simple and easy to use, as otherwise employees will ignore or bypass it.

The company finally answered that call today, announcing view-only permissions that let users determine who can view or edit files within the shared folders they created. They can also set passwords and expiration dates on shared links. These changes should please IT managers and bosses, while full-text search should make the whole workforce happy. Now workers can search keywords contained in documents, not just file names. 

See also: Dropbox Gets Down To Business

Today, Dropbox also announces new tools for app makers: APIs for Shared Folders and Document Previews, so outside developers can build Dropbox for Business functionality into their apps, or enable document previewing through these apps. With this, the company could be tipping its hand about turning its work-oriented cloud service into an actual enterprise platform.

Timing Is Everything

The new changes follow others introduced this year, including Project Harmony, its new collaboration with Microsoft Office. But, since its debut last year, the elephant in the room has been security. 

Why Dropbox took so long to bolster that isn’t clear. The company says it has been working on these features for 16 months in total. That’s a pretty lengthy development cycle. 

See also: Amazon Courts Companies With New Work Storage Service

The timing is interesting—particularly since it slides in just before the beginning of the last quarter of the financial year, and the company is reportedly hoping to go public sometime this year. So it’s no shock if the company seems gung ho about courting customers even harder now. 

So far, Dropbox has attracted 80,000 paying businesses, which seems like an okay start. But it’s a drop in the bucket compared to its consumer cloud-storage service, which is 300 million users strong. Its client list also accounts for a mere sliver of the millions of U.S. companies that do business today.

Whether these changes will be enough to attract more customers will be up to the companies to decide. But at least admins can preview some of these features by joining the early access program

Feature image by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite; screenshot courtesy of Dropbox.

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Dropbox CEO: “We’re Not Cutting Prices”

A hundred gigabytes of storage, enough for years and years of photos, costs $9.99 a month on Dropbox. Google Drive, a largely similar service, costs $1.99, or 80 percent less.

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston defended his company’s pricing under tough questioning Wednesday evening by Recode journalists Liz Gannes and Walt Mossberg in an interview at the Code Conference in Los Angeles.

“We’re not cutting prices,” said Houston.

He noted that his company now has 300 million registered users and that he regularly hears from users who have tried competing services like Box or Microsoft’s OneDrive and come back to Dropbox.

Gannes pointed out that Carousel, a new photo-sharing app from Dropbox, was struggling in Apple’s App Store with a very low download rank. Houston responded that Dropbox was still improving the app and didn’t want to promote it until it was ready.

Instead of competing on price, Houston said, Dropbox was going to keep improving tools like Carousel and Project Harmony, a tool for collaborating on Office documents while using Dropbox for storage.

Houston wasn’t blasé about the big challengers coming after him—everyone from Google and Microsoft to Apple, which once tried to acquire Dropbox.

“We’ve been worried since the day the company was founded,” he said. “All these companies are doing a better and better job of what we’re doing.”

 

 

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How Documents Stored On Box And Dropbox Could End Up On Google

Those files you’re storing on cloud services like Dropbox or Box may not be as secure as you think.

Both services, like other cloud-storage providers, allow users to share links to their stored documents. But sending those links out, even to trusted individuals, can also inadvertently give third parties access to your files as well, according to findings publicized by the file-sharing company Intralinks—which, by the way, is a competitor to both Box and Dropbox.

Dropbox says it’s working to fix the problem by disabling any previously shared links that might be vulnerable to leakage. Box released an email statement saying that it has found no evidence that anyone has abused such “open links” and touting the various privacy settings it offers its users to “help manage access to their content.”

Intralinks chief security officer John Landy wrote that his company inadvertently stumbled upon the vulnerability in the course of running a Google Adwords campaign that mentioned its competitors. That campaign turned up shared-file URLs that led straight to sensitive files that ordinary users had stored on Box and Dropbox—including bank records, mortgage applications and tax returns. Security blogger Graham Cluley, who also blogs for Intralink, provides some examples.

How That Leakage Happens

How, exactly, that happened involves some conjecture. Landy wrote that some Dropbox and Box users apparently created shared links to their files, which they or their recipients then mistakenly entered into a browser search box instead of the URL bar. Doing so and then clicking on an ad—which may seem a fairly unlikely occurrence, at least until you multiply it by the number of people sharing files across the Internet—would then send the file’s URL to the ad network.

One Intralinks executive quoted by Cluley estimated that in one of the company’s Adwords campaign, five percent of all hits (presumably meaning ad clicks) yielded URLs to private files, half of which required no password to access. That “small” campaign turned up more than 300 documents.

There’s also a second way links to private files could leak out to the world. If a shared Dropbox or Box document itself contains links to other sites, clicking on one will pass along the document’s URL to the next website as part of what’s known as a referer header, where administrators of the second site could see it.

It’s not clear if similar vulnerabilities exist for other cloud-storage services such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.

No Password Required

The problem for Box and Dropbox is that they don’t make their shared links more secure, Landy wrote. Recipients of shared links should have to log into the service to authenticate themselves by default, he suggested.

Dropbox engineering vice president Aditya Agarwal said in a blog post that his company hasn’t detected any malicious attacks involving shared file URLs. Dropbox decided to disable any affected document links anyway. The vulnerability has been patched for any shared links going forward, so only previously shared items are affected.

Dropbox customers can recreate their shared links, and the company will restore old links as it confirms that particular documents aren’t vulnerable. Agarwal also noted that Dropbox for Business users can require password access to shared files; ordinary users of Dropbox’s free service don’t have that option.

The Dropbox post only addresses one of the two vulnerabilities outlined by Intralinks—the leak-via-referer-header method. In an update, Agarwal wrote that Dropbox is aware that file URLs could leak via search engines that pass them to ad partners, but said that issue is “well known” and that the company “doesn’t consider it a vulnerability.”

Like Dropbox for Business customers, users of Box can also require passwords for file access, although in neither case is that security feature turned on by default. “Box also displays a message to help users understand the permissions for their content,” a Box spokesperson said via email.

Image of Dropbox CEO Drew Houston by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

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Dropbox Buys Loom For Photo Sharing, HackPad For Collaboration

Dropbox is having a busy Thursday.

The file sharing giant has acquired Loom, a photo sharing app that offered mobile users up to five gigabytes of free storage. Loom announced the deal on its company blog.

Dropbox recently announced an update to its photo sharing capabilities with its Carousel feature, and the Loom team will likely join Carousel as the home for syncing and sharing the ever increasing amounts of photos people take on their devices.

Unfortunately, the acquisition means Loom will be shutting down its own service within a month. Loom is not allowing any new signups, and the company informed customers that the service will officially shut down on May 16. Current customers can choose to export their photos to Dropbox, where they’ll automatically receive the same amount of cloud storage they had with Loom, or they can opt for a .zip file that contains every image they’ve ever uploaded to Loom’s servers.

Also joining Dropbox—by way of acquisition—is a company called HackPad, a wiki-style collaboration and note-taking tool that could also boost Dropbox’s own recently launched internal collaboration tools.

Unlike the Loom acquisition, Hackpad will continue to remain open to existing and new customers, and the company said it will be working with Dropbox to “bring new offerings to the market.”

Image of Gentry Underwood of Dropbox by Adrianna Lee for ReadWrite

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Dropbox Upgrades For Business Users Will Reportedly Launch Next Month

Last November, Dropbox pledged that its business users would gain the ability to access their personal file-storage accounts as well, and now the company’s fulfilling that promise. According to The Verge, Dropbox sent an email to business customers about an upcoming press event, stating that the anticipated account-switching features will roll out across all of their devices on April 9. The email also reportedly notes that Dropbox will debut new administration tools. 

That means Dropbox’s business users will no longer have to log in and out (or use multiple browsers or privacy modes) to access documents in both their individual and professional accounts. It’s a move intended to make Dropbox friendlier to business users and thus, the company has said, to improve worker productivity.

Dropbox says that it serves more than 4 million businesses, a number dwarfed by the sheer size of its consumer user base. More than 200 million people use Dropbox to manage more than one billion files, the company says.

Dropbox may need all the help it can get. Google just slashed the price of Google Drive storage to $10 a month for a terabyte of storage—far less than Dropbox’s upper tier of consumer cloud storage, which costs five times as much for half the storage. 

Not that Dropbox, which is worth $8 billion, is hurting. But it faces tough competition, and not just from Google. One of its biggest rivals is Box, the cloud storage company that likewise started out catering to consumers, but doubled down on business clients in 2007. Box has reportedly already filed for an initial public offering.

Both services have pros and cons. Box may not be as easy to use or ubiquitous as Dropbox, but it offers the sort of advanced security that companies require. Security has been a sore point for Dropbox. 

But the company attracted $350 million in funding last month to bolster its enterprise software division. Some of that should—and probably will—go toward security. 

Image courtesy of Dropbox

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Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside Heading To Dropbox As COO

Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside

Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside

Dennis Woodside, a ten-year Google veteran who most recently served as CEO of its Motorola Mobility unit, will be moving to cloud-storage service Dropbox as its first chief operating officer. Google recently announced plans to sell Motorola to Lenovo for almost $3 billion, roughly two years after it paid more than $12 billion for the unit.

Photo by Dan Rowinski for ReadWrite

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Dell’s Business Model Shifts To The Cloud In Pact With Dropbox

In a move to make itself more relevant to companies hungry for drag-and-drop online storage, Dell announced new plans that will bring Dropbox to several of Dell’s products and services.

Dell’s expansion into cloud-based storage says a lot about its future strategy. Following its 2011 break with EMC as its storage provider, Dell quickly aligned itself with many cloud-based storage providers and application vendors.

This week, Dell Ventures—the company’s venture capital arm—announced a fresh round of $300 million to invest in strategic startups to help build out Dell’s data centers, storage and mobile products. The round follows $60 million that Dell invested last year for storage-specific companies to help it build out its data center business. Popular personal cloud startup Dropbox is expected to gain a portion of those funds.

The venture capital money follows Dell’s announcements last week that it’s salespeople will be offering Dropbox for Business to new and existing customers. Dell said it will also pre-install Dropbox’s online storage service (complete with Dell’s own brand of data protection software) on its consumer and business tablets.

Dropbox boasts that it is used by more than 4 million businesses and upwards of 1 billion files uploaded every 24 hours. That’s a small drop in the bucket compared to the 1 exabyte of data, analysts suggest are stored in the cloud. That’s a key market Dell is hoping to be a part of.

To get there, Dell will promote the use of Dropbox and provide its customers’ IT departments with software support to make sure Dropbox meets compliance and regulatory requirements. Dell also wants to avoid any data meltdowns like the ones Dropbox had earlier this year.

Dell’s other notable cloud storage partnerships include its 14-year run with Red Hat; OpenStack cloud and open source application infrastructure provider Mirantis and solid-state storage maker Skyera.

As more businesses move simple storage to cloud-based systems, providers like Dropbox are sure to be in high demand.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user mekuria getinet

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