Dropbox Data Not Secure, Says Edward Snowden

Brandon Dimmel's picture

Edward Snowden thinks you should avoid using popular cloud storage service Dropbox. In a recent interview with United Kingdom news source The Guardian, Snowden suggested that the information stored through Dropbox is not secure.

As a former systems administrator with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden made headlines last year when he released documents unveiling the United States government's invasive PRISM program. The U.S. Department of Justice then charged Snowden with violating the Espionage Act, which prompted him to flee to Russia, where he was later granted asylum.

Dropbox a "Wannabe PRISM Partner," Snowden Says

Certainly, Edward Snowden can be considered an expert on privacy and state surveillance. That's why his comments about California's Dropbox, a file hosting service established in 2008 that currently has over 200 million users, are drawing so much attention. Specifically, Snowden said that Dropbox is a "targeted, wannabe PRISM partner" that is "very hostile to privacy." (Source: theguardian.com)

Snowden added that he wasn't pleased to see Dropbox appoint former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to its Board of Directors back in April. Snowden called Rice "the most anti-privacy official you can imagine." It's worth noting that Rice was a supporter of wiretapping without a warrant following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Snowden was not the only person to slam Dropbox for bringing Rice on board. In fact, the Rice hiring prompted a grassroots boycott called "Drop Dropbox". The campaign eventually forced Dropbox chief executive officer Drew Houston to offer this public response: "Safeguarding our users' information is a top priority at Dropbox. We were not involved in PRISM, and would resist any program of its kind." (Source: businessinsider.com)

Snowden Presses for "Zero-Knowledge Approach"

Snowden didn't make any criticisms of other cloud services -- like Microsoft's OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) or Google Docs -- during his interview, but he did say that all firms in this market need to employ a "zero-knowledge approach". This means cloud storage companies encrypt data in a way that only allows the user access to it -- making it impossible for anyone other than the customer to view that information.

"[A zero-knowledge approach is the only way cloud providers] can prove to the customers that they can be trusted with their information," Snowden said. (Source: pcworld.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Do you use a cloud service like Dropbox to store your sensitive data? Are you worried that your information is being viewed without your permission? Do you agree with Snowden that cloud service providers need to employ the zero-knowledge approach? Lastly, are you concerned that Condoleeza Rice is part of Dropbox's Board of Directors?

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jeffwhittle's picture

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This article, like all the others is great and a wealth on information.


al's picture

I do use dropbox but probably not for secure stuff, yet at least.

This has pros and cons.
Con: This is an opportunity to catch villains.
Pro: Government agents are humans who fail. It would be nice to feel secure that our data cannot get into the hands of those who might fail. We all have reasons not to trust humans.
Pro: If we are told data is secure then so it should be. Don't like being lied to.
By the way, the clever villains will still use the cloud storage and encrypt first by other means. The lazy ones will probably get caught and this is just one of the avenues, but surely there will be others, so no need to stoop to lying to us about security of our data.

jsteedley2's picture

Hello, all.
There are inaccuracies in this article.
It says; Snowden was prompted to "flee to Russia".
Not so.
His choices when leaving Hawaii, U.S.A. were to fly east or west.
He choose west, and then flew to Hong Kong, ostensibly to meet with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.
Here's what happened, according to Wikipedia.
""ABC News reported that Snowden "could not enter Russia because he did not have a Russian visa and he could not travel to safe haven opportunities in Latin America because the United States had canceled his passport." Snowden remained stranded in the airport transit zone for 39 days, during which time he applied for asylum in 21 countries. On August 1, Russian authorities granted him a one-year temporary renewable asylum.""
So it appears that the *only* reason Snowden is in Russia is because the U.S. "Justice Department" is too inept to coordinate its actions with the airlines' published schedules, and is the party responsible for Snowden actually being in Russia, as opposed to the nation of his choice.
Further, my understanding is that he was not "charged with violating the Espionage Act" until quite some tiem had passed.
Snowden flew to Hong Kong on May 20, 2013.
Snowden was charged [possibly illegally] on June 14, 2013.
So his being charged "with violating the Espionage Act" could not possibly have "prompted him to flee to Russia," since it occurred AFTER his flight to Hong Kong, not before.
Its very bothersome to read articles like this one on a website that claims to report 'factual' events.
Its this kind of sloppy "reporting" that has contributed to the great loss of respect for the so-called "free press", which is apparently 'free' to publish anything factual, made up, inaccurate, or just plain wrong.

Have a GREAT day, Neighbors!
Signed, "Mr.Know-It-All".