One of the most exciting applications to come out in a long time is one that is known as Dropbox. This application first started off as something that really held the average geek fascination. It has since spread to normal everyday use by a lot of people. The ability to be able to host the folders on your computer on what is known as the cloud is something that had been done before but never in so easy a manner. With Dropbox all you have to do is install the application, place some files inside of it and you are ready to go.
While this is exciting, recently there has been some light shed when it comes to the security of the Dropbox folder that is created on your computer. In this article I will talk about it and what you can do to make sure your Dropbox installation is secure.
More details about Dropbox
Before I go into the flaws of the Dropbox system I thought that we could talk a little more about the application itself and why people love to use it so much. For years we have had a storage problem when it came to computers. Most people basically store their data on the hard drive of their computer. But when you store your files in that manner it becomes hard to access those same, updated versions of the files on a different system. So not only are they difficult to transport but they are also not updated to the latest version when you do. People have tried to solve this problem by using portable hard drives. This helped the problem but still was not considered an optimal solution. Yes, you could carry the files from computer to computer and update them but everything was done manually. You could easily forget to update files or a number of other things could go wrong. And now a new twist was added when we wanted to be able to get our data from other devices besides a computer. You now had cell phones and tablet devices that wanted to access that data as well. The solution was the cloud.
The cloud is what we call a group of servers who exist for purposes other than hosting a web page. The cloud allows you to run applications and host files from a remote area. This was an ideal solution to the problem I discussed earlier. But there is still one catch. For the most part, all of the solutions that come with storing apps and files on the cloud were too hard. There was nothing that makes this process easier. That is until Dropbox came along. With Dropbox you were able to create a normal folder on your computer and place files inside of it. Those files would then be hosted on both your computer and a remote server. You could then install the Dropbox app on any other device that you were using. When you did this the Dropbox accounts that you were using would sync up the files that were in those folders with other any other device that you has installed Dropbox on. Now you can sync the devices with no problem at all.
The security issues with Dropbox
While this application was a great answer to the file sharing problem, it also left a hole in your computer. Recently a security researcher found that in order for Dropbox to be able to sync the files to all of the devices that you use, a configuration file is made. This configuration file is what gives the folder on your computer the ability to sync up with the remote server that is controlled by Dropbox. The protection that is on this configuration file is light at best. The security researcher found that if a black hat hacker was able to make a Trojan horse that was able to infiltrate a computer that had a Dropbox installation that this Trojan horse would be able to grab the file, send it to the home server, and the person manning that server would be able to access the victims Dropbox account. And the worst part about it is that there would be no way for the victim to be able to tell unless the bad guy deleted or changed the data.
This is a hole that has to be fixed by the Dropbox creators. While it may not be serious now it is a problem that can grow very quickly. There is no telling the amount of damage a hack like this can do.
If you want to make sure that your data is safe on Dropbox you can add an extra level of encryption to it. There are apps such as keepass that will encrypt any passwords that you store on Dropbox and Truecrypt that will secure any files. The bad guys may be able to get to the files but they will not be able to read them.