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Comparing cloud storage services: cost, size, security

Cloud storage features vary widely depending on which option you select for your business, but do you know how secure each one is or isn’t?

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Comparing cloud storage services

By now, most businesses are using some form of cloud storage to either back up files or share documents, be it through the popular Dropbox, Mozy, or Google Drive, but not all cloud storage services are equal – some are more costly, while others are more secure.

Leading consumer and small business resource NextAdvisor.com has rated and reviewed cloud storage services, particularly those that take extra steps to keep confidential data safe and in one centrally located place even if a device is stolen.

NextAdvisor.com Editor Chris Rancourt takes it one step further and gives more detail to AGBeat readers by offering pros and cons of some of the most secure cloud storage options:

1. Spideroak

Pros: Spideroak offers some of the highest encryption security out of all the major cloud storage services. Spideroak takes the extra precautions to encrypt your information and security keys at all times, preventing your information from brute force and pre-computation attacks against your security key. The only way to decipher this information is through your unique password. Spideroak’s zero-knowledge privacy policy insures that not even their employees will have access your password or information, making Spideroak one of the most secure cloud services on the market.

Cons: The drawback to all this extra security is being responsible for all of the encryption keys and passwords. If you are one of those people who constantly forget your password, this may present a problem as the Spideroak staff can not help with password recovery due to their zero knowledge policy. So if you decide to go with Spideroak, make sure that you keep your password somewhere safe.

2. Sugarsync

Pros: Much like other cloud storage services, Sugarsync encrypts all your files to protect them from falling into the wrong hands. When transferring your data, the information goes through transport layer security (TLS) using 256-bit AES encryption. One of the best features of Sugarsync’s security is their remote wipe. The remote wipe is a critical tool to protect your information if your computer, phone or tablet ever gets stolen. With the remote wipe, you can log on from any computer and remotely delete the files from that stolen device. This way you can be in control of your information even when it’s stolen.

Cons: The downside is that if someone steals your device and you are still logged in to Sugarsync, they will have access to those files until you activate the remote wipe. The other drawback is that if someone is able to gain access to your password or account, your files are not stored as encrypted files so they will be easily readable for those who have hacked your account.

3. Mozy

Pros: Mozy’s Titanium Cloud is one of the most sophisticated cloud storage security systems out there and will protect your information from virtually any type of intrusion. Mozy is protected by military-grade AES encryption prior to data transfer, as well as 256-bit AES encryption with SSL-encrypted tunnel for file transfer with an optional 448-bit Blowfish encryption key. Not only will this keep your information safe while your information is stored, but also while it is in transit when uploading or downloading information. Mozy also offers the ability to use your own encryption key for added security as well as a deactivation ability that works much like Sugarsync’s remote wipe.

The drawback to Mozy is that if you decide to use your own encryption key and lose it, it is not possible to decode your encryption. Mozy does not hold itself responsible for your personal encryption key so if you lose it, your information will stay in its encoded format.

The American Genius (AG) is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Tech News

OnePlus swears to kinda stop collecting invasive data from users

(TECH NEWS) Inadvertently discovered during a hackathon, OnePlus was ousted for collecting insane amounts of data on users’ phones and promises to make a small change.

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Users of OnePlus phones were alarmed to learn this week that the company has been collecting large amounts of data from users without their consent or knowledge.

Software Engineer, Christopher Moore was participating in a hacking challenge when he discovered that his phone was sending excessive amounts of data to the OnePlus servers.

While it’s normal for your phone to automatically send data to headquarters when you have a bug or a system crash, OnePlus was collecting data every time the phone was turned off or on, and whenever apps were used.

“Moore says that OnePlus is collecting data such as phone numbers, serial numbers, WiFi and mobile network information, MAC addresses, and information about when and how apps are used, including Outlook and Slack.”

An opt-out option was buried deep within advanced settings. Most users were not aware that their data was being collected and transmitted.

In response to the user outcry, OnePlus posted an explanation on their support forum, saying that they were using the data to “fine tune our software according to user behavior” and to “provide better after-sales support.”

The company has promised to stop collecting MAC addresses, phone numbers, and WiFi information by the end of the month. They also say that they will update their terms of service to be more transparent about the data they are collecting, and will set up an opt-out option in the operating system’s setup wizard that will allow users to decide whether or not they want to join a “user experience program.”

While OnePlus claims that they have never given or sold information to a third party, users are suspicious that the types of data OnePlus is collecting would eventually be sold to marketers.

Even if you choose to opt out of the “user experience program”, OnePlus will continue to collect your data, but it will not be directly associated with your device. Users have generally not been satisfied with this response, saying that the company should give users the option of stopping all data transmissions.

Says Christopher Moore “Unfortunately, as a system service, there doesn’t appear to be any way of permanently disabling this data collection or removing this functionality without rooting the phone.”

You kind of blew it, OnePlus. You were caught red-handed, and it will take more than a partial opt out program to regain your customers’ trust.

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With reward comes risk: facial recognition and privacy

(TECH NEWS) Facial recognition and artificial intelligence are awesome rewards from technical innovation but with reward comes risk.

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Technology is an omnipresent force in all of our lives. It is the core of innovation, providing us with quick, new ways to research, socialize and entertain ourselves. It seems like everyone is taking advantage of rapidly changing technology.

However what one person thinks as a reward of new systems may actually be a risk to someone else.

Take for instance, facial recognition software. Facebook uses it to identify familiar faces in photos and Apple uses it to unlock phones. It’s everywhere.

Even the porn industry is getting in on it. PornHub, a major online source for adult content, announced their new plan to use AI to help categorize the 10,000 plus videos that are uploaded every day.

Prior to this update, the site used a system of tagging videos to keep them organized. I would go into examples of such categories, but I’ll leave that up to the imagination.

One non-explicit example is organizing content based on the names of the stars of the film. Both the site itself and users had the ability to add tags to videos.

Regardless, this was not fast enough. By integrating AI software, PornHub hopes to expedite this process.

While this may sound like a smart business decision, this seems like high risk beginning to inadvertently diminish privacy rights.

Many people in the porn industry have alternate personas to separate their work and personal lives. Facial recognition software may pull from sources from both sides of that spectrum and end up merging the two.

This has already been the case on Facebook via the recommendations the site makes for “people you may know” via your internet practices.

However, it’s not just a matter of protecting the identity for a professional or amateur porn actor, it’s also about the privacy of clients.

Imagine being recommended to friend the star of the last video you streamed. This industry in particular, requires a level of discretion.

To combat some of the fears, PornHub has insists that the AI software only tags from the 10,000 stars in their database. Though as this update has proven, they could expand their database to keep up with the demand in the future.

It’s a technological advantage for their organization, but at what cost to others’ privacy?

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Tech News

Be My Eyes app offers eyes to those that need ’em

(TECH NEWS) Even with the best coping techniques, some people need help from time to time — enter Be My Eyes for the seeing impaired community.

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It’s nice to see a free app that connects helpful volunteers with folks seeking assistance.

“See” being a relative term here, because the free Be My Eyes app is designed to assist people who are visually impaired or blind. The anonymous and free app allows visually impaired users to connect, via video, to sighted volunteers who can then provide “visual assistance” to help with tasks such as identifying objects or describing environments.

Visually impaired users seeking assistance simply call in and the app finds the first available volunteer, usually within 45 to 60 seconds. The app automatically connects to a sighted volunteer who speaks the user’s language. There are currently volunteers representing 90 languages in 150 countries.

Be My Eyes also tracks the time zones in users’ locations so that visually impaired users can access the service 24 hours a day without worrying that they’ll disturb volunteers at night.

After dark, the app will even find a volunteer in the opposite hemisphere. Users are encouraged to ask for assistance whenever they want and as often as needed.

Sighted volunteers receive a notification when a visually impaired user seeks assistance. The volunteer can then decide whether or not to receive the call. If they aren’t available, the call is simply forwarded to the next appropriate volunteer.

Visually impaired users say they’ve used Be My Eyes to get help with finding lost items, reading instructions, navigating new places and public transportation, shopping, and more.

The app itself was invented by a visually impaired innovator, Hans Jørgen Wiberg, a member of the Danish Association of the Blind who began losing his sight at age 25.

Says Wiberg, “It is flexible, takes only a few minutes to help and the app is therefore a good opportunity for the busy, modern individual with the energy to help others.”

Wilberg presented his idea for Be My Eyes at a startup event in Denmark in 2012. He was able to recruit a team of developers, who rolled out the app in 2015.

Some critics have pointed out that the app tends to reinforce the stereotype that visually impaired people, and people with disabilities in general, are helpless and dependent on others to get by. Presumably, blind people have developed inventive strategies for solving everyday challenges long before Be My Eyes was ever invented.

According to the reviews from sighted volunteers, many wait weeks at a time to get an inquiry. The Be My Eyes network currently has about ten times more volunteers than users, which begs the question: Do blind people actually want to use this app?

If you’d like to try it out, as either a visually impaired user or a sighted volunteer, you can download the app for Android at the Google Play Store or for iOS at the App Store.

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