US Border Patrol Says It Won’t Search Travelers’ Cloud Data

I am not sure if this is reassuring that they won’t do it or if it is scary because others are doing it:

“US border patrol officers don’t have the authority to examine data stored in the cloud when they search travelers’ phones, the US Customs and Border Protection has acknowledged.

“The agency clarified that while it can search electronic devices at the border without consent and in most cases without a warrant, it has no authority to search data in the cloud, according to a letter published Wednesday by NBC News. The clarification came in response to questions Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., had about what he called the ‘deeply troubling’ practice of border agents pressuring Americans into providing passwords and access to their social media accounts.”

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Sia – a Safe, Secure, Affordable and Very Private File Storage Service in the Cloud

Most computer users are familiar with the leading online file storage services, including Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, SugarSync, SpiderOak, Apple iDrive, Amazon Web Services S3, and a number of others. However, many people are reluctant to use any of these services because of concerns about security, privacy, and/or expenses. Sia plans to meet those concerns by providing low-cost file storage capabilities that are even more secure than any of the above-mentioned services. In fact, the company plans on building the largest storage superserver on the planet. However, the superserver will not be in one location. Instead, it will be distributed amongst thousands of homes, offices, and data centers around the world.

That is a lofty goal, but reading about Sia convinces me that the company might be able to meet its objective. If it does, and if you want to safely store files off-site for backup and security purposes, you probably will want to investigate Sia. The software is available for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.

First of all, Sia won’t own many servers. Sia is a new approach to cloud storage platforms. Instead of all datacenters being owned and operated by a single company, Sia opens the floodgates and allows anyone to make money by renting out space on their hard drives to other Sia users.

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Storj.io, a Distributed, Encrypted File Storage Service Where Only You Have Access to Your Data

Storj.io logo

Storj.io (pronounced “Storage eye oh) is a proposed new service for storing data in the cloud. The data can be anything you wish. I suspect most users will use Storj.io as a file backup service, keeping copies of critical files off site and available at any time. Storj.io’s primary goal is to provide a cloud storage solution that is substantially faster and 50% less expensive than traditional data center-based cloud storage solutions provided by Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

Storj uses distributed peer-to-peer storage. That is, there are no centralized servers with huge disk drives. Instead, the Storj.io software breaks the file(s) to be stored into thousands of tiny segments, encrypts each segment, and then stores the segments in available disk space of other Storj.io customers. Each segment is stored in multiple locations. The result is that the information can be restored to the user’s system at any time, even if some or even many of the other Storj.io customers turn their computers off. There are so many segments saved in so many locations around the world that the possibility of any segment being unavailable at any time is mathematically almost impossible. The developers of Storj.io expect the system to provide 99.99999% availability, higher than most any competitive system in use today.

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Evernote Says, “Never Mind”

This is a follow-up to Wednesday’s article, Some Evernote Employees Can See Your Notes. Apparently Evernote experienced a big backlash from its customers after announcing the planned changes to its privacy policy that would have permitted some employees to view the content of users’ notes.

Evernote CEO Chris O’Neill issued an apology of sorts yesterday for the company’s “poor communication” around the policy, and pointed out that users’ information would be anonymized. But today the company has gone one step further by announcing that it’s no longer implementing the planned changes in their current form.

Details may be found at: https://blog.evernote.com/blog/2016/12/15/evernote-revisits-privacy-policy/ and at: https://blog.evernote.com/blog/2016/12/15/note-chris-oneill-evernotes-privacy-policy/

Some Evernote Employees Can See Your Notes

UPDATE: Click here to see an update to this story

Do you think your Evernote notes are private? Think again. The company says that changes which go into effect on January 23, 2017, will give some Evernote employees the right to look at notes posted by anyone using the service. So much for privacy!

I have been a big fan of Evernote and I have thousands of notes in their servers. I do encrypt many of my more sensitive notes but not everything stored in Evernote. I even pay $69.99 a year for the Premium version and have loved it and have recommended it to others. However, if the company doesn’t change its policy before January 23, I will be deleting all my notes and canceling the service. Today I wrote a note in my calendar for January 23, 2017 to cancel Evernote.

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pCloud: Better than Dropbox?

Dropbox is a very popular service. However, it certainly is not perfect.

My biggest complaint with Dropbox is that it has a rather weak method of encryption for storing your data on Dropbox’s servers. (See https://goo.gl/G7cxNF for an explanation of Dropbox’s encryption weaknesses.) Dropbox employees can read your personal data. If Dropbox receives a court order demanding they supply copies of your personal data to some government agency, the company must do so. Also, in theory, if a hacker ever gains access to Dropbox’s servers, that person  possibly could also read your data. The odds of a hacker gaining access are slim but not impossible.

Next, Dropbox only provides 2 gigabytes of storage space free of charge, significantly less than that of most of its competitors.

One new service is “just like Dropbox, except (1.) it is faster than Dropbox, (2.) it can encrypt every bit of data before storing on the company’s servers, making the service much more secure and (3.) it offers 10 gigabytes of free storage space with the option to obtain 20 gigabytes at no charge if a user makes some bonus steps.

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