SearchYourCloud Provides Secure Solution to Key Parts of the 'Dropbox Problem'

By Peter Bernstein March 25, 2013

Until the recently concluded RSA security event, I had not looked deeply into how the development of third-party capabilities that allow you to download very large files—as Dropbox, Google Drive and a host of other entries from the likes of Microsoft—was creating a significant risk to enterprises of all sizes. 

After all, when we are working remotely on our PCs, laptops and personal devices, or just want to find and share a large file with a colleague that we know won’t be accepted on a corporate network because it’s too big, our desire for collaboration creates a significant risk.

The problem is that IT departments are not likely to willingly change corporate policies and rules on the searching, transmission and sharing of large files. Yet, realities are that this is not likely to stop us from going about important professional and also personal business. The proof is in the numbers where it is estimated that over 100 million people now use third-party cloud-based file storage services. The convenience is too valuable. In fact, being able to easily search any device for information stored in the cloud by third parties of our choice in this day and age could almost be considered invaluable. There is good news for all of us on this front with the introduction by Simplexo of SearchYourCloud

SearchYourCloud is a full text search application that not only provides significantly more accurate and useful results. It does so without compromising security or privacy. In fact, it actually increases both.

What’s in your clouds?

The SearchYourCloud application enables individuals with a single search to securely find and access information stored in Dropbox, Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint or Outlook.com. Plus, the capabilities will be extended to Google Drive, EverNote, Sky Drive and other clouds later in the year from a Windows PC or IOS device. The interesting thing is that the search capability produces results based on the overall relevance to the query rather than just "keywords."  As the company explains, this means that a search for "Startup Act 3.0 Bill" doesn't deliver results that include hundreds of documents with the number "3" or every email from people named "Bill." In other words, the refinement here is not just the ability to securely interact with multiple stored documents on public and other cloud or internal resources, but that the searching capabilities are a real time saver.

Security, security, security – and did I mention security?

While speed and accuracy are important, in the BYOD/Cloud world that we all now inhabit, security needs to be top of mind. SearchYourCloud was built on just that reality. How so?

SearchYourCloud does not create a direct network connection between a mobile device and the host computer/network, and holds no file contents. Data is synchronized to your cloud provider where it is fully encrypted to AES 256 and can be securely accessed from a tablet, smartphone or your windows PC. It also provides the ability to automatically delete 'Off-Line' files from a mobile device after a pre-set time.  This keeps user details and sensitive content from being cached on the device.

Key Facts regarding SearchYourCloud

  • Fast and Accurate Search. Fast, inclusive and accurate search results using a unique method to create and query a secure full-text index without ever storing the file or its contents in the index.  
  • Full-text Search within Documents. Searches dig deeply into the content of emails, Word, PowerPoint and other documents not available via public search engines without the security threat of actually opening the index to the cloud.
  • Total Privacy in the Cloud. To protect privacy and ensure superior security, SearchYourCloud does not store user email addresses or PINs, and there are no direct URLs exposed for the file, file contents or store and all stored files are fully encrypted. All of which makes it very safe to use in a cloud environment.
  • Versions Always Up to Date. If a document is stored off-line and on a cloud such as Dropbox, the app will notify the user if the version stored is older than the one in the cloud.
  • Secure Encryption of User Data. Any files stored on the local device and in your cloud store are encrypted. Encryption is done using AES 256 as used by the US government.
  • Document Formats. SearchYourCloud may be used to search document types stored using Dropbox, Exchange, Office 365 and Microsoft Office formats including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Keynote, and SharePoint. With Google Drive, EverNote, Sky Drive and other cloud stores coming later in the year.
  • Share. Users may privately share a file with others by creating a separate copy of the specified file, into a new, isolated store area.

Simon Bain, Simplexo CTO noted that, "Many people believe that there is a tradeoff between ease of access to information and security. In reality, finding information from mobile devices has been both extremely convoluted and not secure. SearchYourCloud enables users to not only find what they are searching for, but also protects their data and privacy in the cloud. The Simplexo team has worked long and hard to deliver a remote access solution that does not require users or businesses to compromise productivity, privacy or security."

In speaking with Bain, I asked about the origin of SearchYourCloud. He said that given the Simplexo background in secure document management, “We set out to do two things with three key parts of our intellectual property. First was to give users something they have desired in the form of simplified search for things that have been hard to find or have been inaccessible. Users want what they want and security is an afterthought until they get hacked.” He continued that, “Second we wanted to give IT back some control over the security and privacy problems that BYOD and the cloud have created.” 

Bain added that the latter was particularly important; “Realities are that IT has a responsibility for corporate governance. Compliance is a huge challenge given government and other mandates regarding security but which also speaks directly to major concerns about privacy.” 

The issue of privacy concerns led to an interesting exchange about encryption and who owns and should manage the keys. Bain believes, and Simplexo is pursuing a path where authentication is on the device and the user owns the keys and the right to manage them.

“The idea of storing private info on the cloud, especially given the terms and conditions of third-party providers, makes no sense and is why we make sure there is nothing stored on the servers and everything is encrypted,” he explained.

I was also struck by his view that, “From our perspective it is all about usability and not functionality.” The point is well taken. The reason things like Dropbox are so popular is because they serve a valuable need, i.e., they are useable and is why they will continue to be used and so many entities are jumping into the game. It is also why without solutions such as SearchYourCloud, which encrypts information on top of basic security practices like https, enterprise risk exposure will remain significant because the allure and value of third-party services will encourage the growing trend of people willingly by-passing IT to download apps and information to get things done.   

The Simplexo technology can be used as a front-end access method for existing private or public cloud services, or as the backbone to deliver new services. In either capacity it does as the company believes deliver an interesting new information access paradigm that not only helps users access their critical data in the cloud, but give IT tools to help resolve much if not all of the “Dropbox Problem.”




Edited by Braden Becker
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