The news filling the tech blogs this week is that the US’s top secret National Security Agency has access to all the data on servers owned by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and so on. Worse, the NSA can supposedly access the data without a warrant.
For many this is a scary thought. At this point we are unsure of all the facts. Google has publicly sworn that no government agency has direct access to their servers and that all information passed over to any government agency is lawful. Larry Page spoke to this in a recent blog post:
First, we have not joined any program that would give the US government – or any other government – direct access to our servers. Indeed, the US government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centres. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.
But there is a lot of speculation if not evidence that the NSA does have access. For some this was almost expected however many people are upset that their business data could be subject to access by the NSA, which is way worse than the heavily publicised Patriot Act.
Until the NSA’s position is clear, or if you require more security for your Google Apps services, there are a couple of options that you can look at for your Gmail and Drive data.
Ciphercloud is a service that encrypts your emails. The encrypted data is then stored on the public cloud servers. if someone tries to view this data all that they will see are unreadable, encrypted characters. Ciphercloud uses encryption and tokenisation in real time using a local gateway. Ciphercloud also uses AES-256 encryption that most consider to be military-grade encryption and very difficult to crack.
Ciphercloud ensures only people you give permission to view your data will be able to see or access it.
For those who would like to encrypt their Google Drive files, Boxcryptor is one option. Boxcryptor uses the same AES-256 encryption to protect your data. The premise is simple. Install Boxcryptor on your system, create a folder with a password and add this folder into your Google Drive folder that you created as part of the Google Drive Sync tool installation.
Once the folder is added to your Google Drive Sync folder synced up to Google Drive, you can start adding files into this Boxcrypter folder.
All contents of this folder will be encrypted with the best quality encryption so if others try to gain access to your Google Drive online they will only see unreadable data.
Boxcryptor is not only for Google Apps users. It can be used with other syncing services such as Dropbox, Box, Sugarsync, and so on.
Large organisations and government agencies worldwide have already moved to cloud productivity suites. Many will be waiting for more detail around Prism and its reach. The options outlined may be some things to consider for accounts where you need extra protection.
Image credit: Guardian Online