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We use them every day. Cloud storage providers (CSPs) like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and Microsoft OneDrive and many more are ready to help you store your files. CSPs offer a great web-based service by providing file storage that is accessible on almost any device. It can also be cost effective as minimum storage capacities are typically free of charge. But what they don’t tell you about the security of your files can be shocking and may make you think twice before hitting that Sign Up button.

CSPs like Google Drive and Dropbox store your files on their servers and protect them with an encryption key. But what they don’t tell you is that in order to provide features like file-preview or search, they must create an index document apart from the original document. These indexed documents are not always encrypted and can be viewed by Google or Microsoft. Dropbox has even changed their privacy terms to give themselves the right to share data collected from your files. 

So how does one leverage the convenience and cost effectiveness of the cloud without risking a leak of private information. There are third-party software applications available to help you protect your files while storing them on public CSPs. However, these applications prevent the full capabilities of CSPs, like file preview or search because they prevent CSPs from accessing unencrypted versions of your files. Obviously, there is a trade-off between security and usability.  

Fortunately, there are emerging technologies that allow you to fully encrypt your cloud files while allowing you to search and preview your files without having to decrypt your information. Searchable Encryption has been researched for many years to solve this issue and was not practical until now. Without getting into major details like homomorphic encryption, Searchable Encryption technologies allow for two encrypted words to be matched without having to decrypt your files. This solves the security issues with CSPs and the functionality issues faced when encrypting files prior to storing them on your favorite cloud storage.

Remember, CSPs like Dropbox and Google Drive want you to know that they protect your files, but in reality, they control your files and in some cases share data collected from your files. Keep your files secure on Box, Microsoft OneDrive and Sharepoint by encrypting your files. Searchable Encryption technologies are on the horizon and offer the promise of storing and using your files even more securely in the cloud.

Click here to learn more about Hitachi’s Credeon Secure Full-text Search.

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