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Cloud Providers with Privacy in Mind

Cloud storage is growing in popularity, but as is the consumer concern for privacy. With recent revelations from the Guardian newspaper that the government are capable of prying on your internet data with ease, security has become a forefront issue again for many. With seemingly everyone offering their own cloud storage service nowadays, from Dropbox to Microsoft’s SkyDrive, it can become tricky knowing who to go with. But what if privacy is your most desirable feature; if you want to store your data in the cloud and be safe knowing that no-one else can access it?

This article will feature some cloud storage providers who claim to have your privacy in mind and who offer better security than some of the market leaders.

Wuala

The first word you’ll see when visiting Wuala’s homepage is “secure”. The service offers 5 GB of storage for free, with additional capacity available at a monthly fee.

The majority of cloud providers encrypt your data as it is being transferred to them, but it won’t be stored as securely on the cloud. The data will usually still be visible to the company. This isn’t for any nefarious means (hopefully!), but mostly so that indexing the data and creating browser interfaces is possible. However, it does also mean that it’s possible for the company to hand your data over to the government if requested. Also, if their service suffers an attack or is buggy, it’s possible that your data could leak out that way.

Wuala prevents this by encrypting your data on their servers. Everything is encrypted locally before being uploaded and Wuala. All they can see on their side is how many files you have and how much storage it’s using. All the metadata (like file names and thumbnails) are hidden, as is the data itself.

Tresorit

“Completely secure cloud storage was a myth. Until now,” says the opening message on Tresorit.

Currently just available for Windows (although other platforms can register their interest), this service offers 5 GB of free storage space to new users. Like Wuala, Tresorit offers client side encryption, but the benefit it has is that you can share encrypted files. You can share via email and the software will sync and track file changes to the cloud. The files remain encrypted until the receiving user downloads them.

All files are encrypted with AES-256 prior to upload, as well as HMAC message authentication codes applied on SHA-512 hashes.

SpiderOak

Finally there is SpiderOak, boasting “100% private online backup” and offering users 2 GB of free storage space. There are also paid plans for those who need additional room.

SpiderOak make it clear that privacy is their main prerogative. They have a “zero knowledge” privacy rule, which essentially means that they too offer client side encryption. They are keen to separate themselves from other cloud storage providers, with a bold message saying that “they can see all your data” and “we can see zero”.

Which to choose?

All of the aforementioned services offer free registrations, so the best way to discover which you prefer is to give them all a shot. They all offer the benefits of client side encryption and help put your privacy back in your hands.

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