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Sync'n'share can be all wet. Here's some tools to help stem the flood

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Storagebod Edward Snowden’s revelations about the activities of the various Western security organisations have not come as a real surprise. Yet they were a wake-up call to how the landscape of our own personal data security has changed.

Multiple devices and increased mobility have meant that we have looked for ways to ensure that we have access to our data wherever and whenever. Gone are the days when the average household has a single computing device.

It is also increasingly uncommon to find a homogeneous household in terms of manufacturer or operating system.

It is now fairly common to find Windows, OSX, Android, iOS and even Linux devices all within a single house. Throw in digital cameras and a couple of smart TVs, and it is no wonder that we have a situation that makes data sharing in a secure fashion more and more complex for the average person.

So file-syncing and sharing products such as Dropbox, SkyDrive and GoogleDrive are pretty much inevitable consequences of this. If you are anything like me, you have a selection of these services: some free and some paid for, but pretty much all of them are insecure. Some are terribly so.

Of course it would be nice if the operating system manufacturers could agree on a standard which included encryption of data in-flight and at rest with a simple and easy-to-use key-sharing mechanism. Even with this, we would probably not trust it any more, but it might at least provide us an initial level of defence.

I have started to look at ways of adding encryption to the various cloud services I use. In the past I made fairly heavy use of TrueCrypt, but it is not seamless and can be clunky. However this is becoming more feasible as apps such as Cryptonite and DiskDecipher are appearing for mobile devices.

Recently I started to play with BoxCryptor and EncFS. BoxCryptor seems nice and easy to use, certainly on the desktop. It supports multiple cloud providers, although the free version only supports a single cloud provider — if you want to encrypt your multiple cloud stores, you will have to pay. There are also alternatives such as Cloudfogger, but development for BoxCryptor seems to be ongoing.

There is also perhaps the option of building your own "sync and share" service. Transporter recently successfully "Kickstarted" and looks good, while Plug is in the process of kickstarting.

Similarly, Synology Devices has Cloud Station, and QNAP has myQNAPcloud.

Or, you can go totally build your own and use ownCloud.

In the enterprise sector you have a multitude of options as well. The main thing is: you need not store your stuff in the cloud in an insecure manner. You have lots of options now, from keeping it local to using a cloud service provider. Encryption is still not as user friendly as it could be, but it has got easier.

You can protect your data, and you probably should. ®

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