As authorities escalate their crack down on digital piracy, users need to reconsider where they store their personal data in the cloud.
In January 2012, Megaupload was shut down by federal authorities, leaving millions of users caught off guard. Megaupload was a cloud based file sharing site that allowed users to upload and download large files directly from MegaUpload’s own servers, rather than using P2P or torrents. Users could also stream live video files through their affiliated site MegaVideo. Collectively, Megaupload and its affiliated sites (Megavideo, Megalive, Megabox and Megaporn) drew in 50 million visitors a day and accounted for 4% of internet usage.
Although Megaupload described itself as a site to store large quantities of data, federal authorities allege that the site was used almost exclusively for sharing copyright material, costing copyright holders upwards of $500 million in lost revenue. Authorities consequently shut down the site, seizing 25 petabytes of data, including the personal files of all Megaupload users. Millions of people lost access to their files without warning, and there is still no agreement on how former users can retrieve their data. This all serves as a timely reminder to users that they must be careful where they trust their data in the cloud.
The fate of Megaupload also served as an important lesson to other file-sharing sites, which have become more risk-averse to potential copyright infringement. Just last month, Dropbox severed ties with Boxopus, an application that allowed users to download torrents directly into their Dropbox account without the need to install a BitTorrent client on their computer. The decision to terminate Boxopus’s API access was based on the belief that the application “could be perceived as encouraging users to violate copyright using Dropbox.”
Heightened scrutiny into the operations of file-sharing sites is forcing many to apply greater caution. If a site or application is even perceived as facilitating copyright infringement it can be seized or blocked. Users therefore need to be mindful of where they store their personal files in the cloud to mitigate the risk of lost data.
3 Tips for Choosing a Personal Cloud Solution
1) Don’t ignore reputation. If the site you use is primarily used for sharing pirated material, then look for an alternative. Keep in mind that they are not going to promote the fact that they share pirated material on the front end of their site. This may be offered out the back-end, through third-party sites that contain secret links.
2) Back-up elsewhere. If you store or distribute your own files through a cloud service that allegedly relies on piracy for a big part of its revenue, it is wise to back up elsewhere. They may be next on the Department of Justice’s hit list.
3) Switch to a trusted provider. Use a trusted and well-known provider without any obvious connections to piracy. Check their Terms and Conditions to verify their stance on copyright infringement.
Choosing a Corporate Cloud Solution
When it comes to storing confidential corporate documents online, users need to be even more vigilant. Corporations need a secure document sharing solution that gives them complete control over their most sensitive information.
Generic document sharing providers, like Dropbox and Google Drive, offer a convenient way to store and access documents, but lack the sophisticated security features required by business users, like role-based access to documents and data encryption.
Specialized document sharing solutions offer a far more secure alternative for business users because they are designed with specific business processes in mind. View this recent infographic to learn more about the differences between generic vs. specialized document sharing providers.