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To the Cloud? Maybe Not!

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Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Thursday, 28 July 2011
 

Update on Mobile File Transfers -- Make Security Your Top Priority

Advancements in mobile computing and lower hardware costs have literally moved people out of their offices and into airports, remote offices, customer facilities, conference rooms, libraries and home offices.  Because of the migration, people work differently than they did years ago and require increased data mobility. Today, users are more likely to have access to a variety of computers; and, like their mobile phones, they want to take their data with them wherever they go.

The Internet has been pivotal in the growth of solutions that enable mobile users to transfer and share any type of digital data.  Many inexpensive file transfer solutions (some are even free) have given users the freedom of having access to their data without having to carry their laptop with them.  Email, FTP sites, CDs/DVDs, USB drives and cloud-storage services can all be used to transfer and share files.  However, as we hear almost daily, they all have security, privacy and other issues that need to be considered. 

  

Their limitations have underscored the compelling need for a better, cost-effective solution that doesn’t trade-off data security for simplicity of access, doesn’t limit the capacity of file transfers and doesn’t have hidden, long-term fees. 

  

Sending an email with a file attachment is easy enough; however, as file attachment sizes and data leaks increase, users are facing capacity and security problems.  Email messages are generally not encrypted and because they pass through intermediate computers before reaching their destination, it’s fairly easy for others to intercept and read messages.  In addition, you often have to deal with synch/version issues when sending multiple versions of an attached file.

   

Both anonymous and authenticated FTP file transfers have security issues because all information (name, password and file content) is transmitted in plain text—making it an easy target for hackers.

  

Using 700MB CDs or even 4.7GB DVDs for file transfer can be time-consuming and capacity is limited to the disc size.  They can also be damaged, are easily lost and can also cause syncing challenges.  

  

Today’s ultra-small USB drives are often lost, can be damaged and may not have the capacity needed to store and transfer large files.  Plus, they are attack-vectors for malicious software.

  

Cloud Storage, the current darling of the IT industry, is not suited for small businesses and consumers, due to its inherent cost-structure.  Move more than a few Gigabytes of data to the cloud and you’ll incur fees.  Other limitations range from capacity limits, slow uploads and exposure to the security and privacy issues that have recently been reported in the press.  The security and privacy issues of Cloud Storage also make it a time-bomb for enterprises, even if the cost may not be a constraint.

  

In a recent InformationWeek Analytics survey, business technology decision-makers gave security concerns as the top reason companies steer clear of public cloud storage.  Privacy concerns ranked second.    

  

Data security and the impact it has on individuals and businesses has become a serious problem.  If sensitive data falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to fraud, identity theft or similar disasters.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that as many as 10 million Americans have their identities stolen each year and offers this advice.  “Given the cost of a security breachlosing your customers’ trust and perhaps even defending yourself against a lawsuitsafeguarding personal information is just plain good business.”  

  

In Symantec’s 2010 Small- and Mid-sized Businesses (SMB) Information Protection Survey, companies reported that the average annual cost of cyber attacks was $188,242. Of the 73 percent that experienced cyber attacks in 2010, 100 percent experienced direct costs.

 Direct Costs SMBs Have Incurred as a Result of Cyber Attacks

  
Source:  Symantec 2010 (SMB) Information Protection Survey                             

Symantec also found that lost mobile devices are a major problem for SMBs. Most (62 percent) lost at least one mobile device in the past 12 months (a laptop, PDA, smart phone, etc.) and all of the companies surveyed had at least some devices that, if lost, have no password protection and cannot be remotely wiped of data.

  

With the exponential growth in the number of mobile users, the importance of ensuring privacy while keeping data protected from corruption and unauthorized access is also growing.  According to IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2009-2013 Forecast, the U.S. mobile worker population will grow from 108.9 million in 2008 to 119.7 million (about three-quarters of the U.S. workforce) in 2013.

 
The daily, horror stories highlighting security breaches have certainly made us more aware of how vulnerable we are and why security should not be an afterthought.   

Sony recently reported that 100 million user files were compromised, SEGA – 1.5 million, Citibank – 6 million, Bank of America – 4 million, Morgan Stanley – 34 million and Dropbox – 8 million.   And last month, even the  Pentagon revealed that 24,000 files were stolen from a defense industry computer network during a single intrusion in March−one of its largest-ever losses of sensitive defense data due to a cyber attack.

These were only the recent cloud/organizational database penetrations and thefts that were publicly announced.   Security experts estimate that less than 30 percent of the hactivision, cybercrime is reported and in many instances aren’t even discovered.  

If organizations as large as these can’t keep their data secure, what can small- to medium-sized businesses and individuals do?

  

It turns out, they can do a lot, for surprisingly little cost.

  

A breakthrough in file transfer technology is now available globally that not only simplifies accessing, transferring, editing and sharing files, but it also takes the guesswork out of protecting your privacy and ensuring data security.  There’s nothing to learn, nothing to configure, no space limitations and no annual fees.

  

Featuring patent-pending technology, iTwin is a plug-and-play USB device that has two identical halves for connecting any two online computers and is the first of its kind on the market.  With the iTwin device you have secure, bi-directional access that enables you to copy, back-up or remotely edit any and all files.   The only storage limit is the capacity of your computer and the hard drives connected to it.

  

Privacy and Security

 

The privacy and security features are largely what differentiate the iTwin device from other remote file access and sharing options. The software creates a simple folder where you can drag and drop the files you want to share, your entire hard drive and even attached storage.  No other files will be accessible. 

  

iTwin uses two-factor authentication – the hardware token and optional password – for maximal security.  The two halves generate a random encryption key known only to them and use it for protecting all data access.  iTwin is the only industry solution with end-to-end encryption.

  

iTwin uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption, which has never been broken, and also provides a proprietary remote disable feature to protect all data in case the device is lost.  In addition, when the iTwin is unplugged, all temp files are purged automatically—a key feature when using public computers. For added privacy, nothing is ever stored on someone else’s server.  Everything remains on your own hard drive and is encrypted in transit.

 AES encryption standard has not been broken so far and many consider

The features that make this innovative solution both simple and secure also make it a compelling solution for on-the-go business users who use multiple computers and need secure access to large office files while they work at home or remote offices.  Consumers can use it to safely access sensitive information from anywhere, including their pin numbers, emergency, medical and contact information.  They can use iTwin between both Windows- and Mac-based computers.  It’s also ideal for people who want to share data files, music, photos or videos; and students who want to transport research and project files between school and home. 

  

Small business owners are enthusiastic about this new way to transfer files because they don’t have to invest in a VPN and the IT people to support it.  Others are adopting the technology because they can't risk hosting files in the cloud for security reasons and for contractual obligations to protect company and client confidential information.

  

Non-technical consumers who have been intimidated by other file sharing solutions are finding that iTwin is also the best way to create a simple and secure family network.  By giving a friend or family member one-half of an iTwin, they can provide them with secure, hassle-free access to photos and home videos of special occasions, their travels or other private documents.

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