SpiderOak Appears to be More Secure Alternative to DropBox for Lawyers

[DISCLOSURE– I was so impressed with SpiderOak that I have agreed to feature a SpiderOak banner on my blog site.  If you open an account through a link on my site for a free or paid account, I will receive some nominal compensation to help defray the costs of software testing.]

In earlier articles, I have discussed the utility of DropBox to allow shared file access between traditional desktop/laptop computers, Smartphones, iPads and other tablets.  In fact, it was on my top ten apps list. http://hytechlawyer.com/?p=49   However, recent revelations of previously undisclosed security issues with DropBox have caused us to reevaluate its appropriateness for the transmission of confidential information by lawyers. See http://hytechlawyer.com/?p=345

One concern is the revelation that the data transferred and/or stored in DropBox is accessible to DropBox employees despite earlier representations by the company that it was not.  This breach of trust was compounded by modifications to the DropBox Terms of Service to the point that they provide little if any assurance that the confidentiality of the documents transmitted by or stored in DropBox will be maintained sufficient to preserve the attorney client privilege.

 Through my research for a DropBox alternative, I discovered SpiderOak.  SpiderOak combines a suite of services into one consolidated tool – not only does it allow free sharing of files between devices and file storage like DropBox, but it also supports online backup, file synchronization and remote access.   However, most important for my purposes is SpiderOak’s  “zero-knowledge privacy policy” which it represents involves encryption of the data uploaded  with a password that is not accessible to SpiderOak personnel.  In other words, SpiderOak personnel cannot access your data.

 I have found SpiderOak to be easy to install and use, although its greater functionality makes it slightly more complex than DropBox to set-up.  There is a good video on the Web site that walks you through the process.

Like Dropbox, a user can store/transfer up to 2GB of data free, and has the option of purchasing additional storage capacity. The SpiderOak application is free at the App Store and is available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.  The following link will take you to the SpiderOak web site where more information and down load files for PC and Mac are available: https://spideroak.com/download/promo/hytech

If you give SpiderOak a try, let me know what you think about it. Bottom-line: In my opinion, it provides more functionality and more security than DropBox, and therefore is a better choice of lawyers.


SpiderOak Appears to be More Secure Alternative to DropBox for Lawyers — 15 Comments

  1. Bill,

    Will SpiderOak integrate with GoodReader, PlainText, and other apps? If it’s more secure, I’d be happy to make the switch so long as it provides the same seamless syncing capability.

    Dropbox’s handling of the revision of it’s privacy policies is worth further discussion and I appreciate your posts on this issue.

    Rob Dean

    • It depends on the App. DropBox is much further along in achieving integration. I am still using DropBox selectively to transfer files. I just do not leave sensitive documents in DropBox as a holding area. Many of my files do not demand high security. For those that do, I use SpiderOak.

  2. The SpiderOak product is not without a chink in the armor it seems. Because your are able to view your files via their website, using only your username and password, it shows that they could access the encryption key, obviously derived from your credentials, and view your data. So while they claim to be “zero knowledge” their is still the “opportunity”. If you are truly set on being vigilant about securing private data, I would always suggest encrypting the data before it is sent to any cloud storage provider. My $.02.

  3. On your recommendation, I have started using Spideroak. Is there an app that will allow a user to annotate the documents? If not, do you simply not annotate or do you use Drop Box to get those on to the iPad? (I am so new to this I am not completely sure how this works. . . .)

    • You can use SpiderOak to transfer the document to iPad.

      Once on iPad, the Goodreader App. has annotation capability and I consider it a must have application (see my blog) for PDFs on iPad. I use iAnnotate for PDFs that need to be signed on iPad. I use Docstogo for reading readlines and editing Word documents. I am not aware of a good iPad app to allow you to actually readline on the iPad.

      If I need to draft a document on the iPad, I use Pages and covert to word and email.

      Does this answer your question(s)?

  4. With SpiderOak’s zero-knowledge policy I would agree it is the best choice for lawyers, or for anyone that just does not want the world to be able to see your files. Considering Dropbox’s problems lately I highly recommend SpiderOak to people to keep their files safe and secure.

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  6. After the dropbox security problems surfaced, I tried SpiderOak and have had some really good luck with it. The one thing that could be improved is the integration with other apps on the iPad. For instance, when I used dropbox, I could download dropbox documents in iAnnotate and the iAnnotate app would keep documents on the iPad organized in the same way that the dropbox folder is organized. No need to re-download the same document or manually organize the folders. I could annotate the document and upload it to dropbox. With SpiderOak, the only way I have found to do this is to download the document from the SpiderOak app, annotate in iAnnotate, and email the annotated version to be saved on the computer. It’s a few more steps, but worth the added security. I did email the developer and the said they were working on an update to the app that would allow uploads to SpiderOak from the iPad. Hopefully this is a workable solution. I also love the fact that I can select any folder, even network folders, for SpiderOak to sync.

  7. Does anyone know how easy [or hard] is would be to transfer *numerous* shared files from Dropbox to SpiderOak. Can you drag and drop on a desktop? Would you have to invite all of the clients to the SpiderOak and then transfer documents?

  8. Do you think this would qualify as a HIPAA compliant solution for moving PHI documents from my office computer to the iPad? I would assume that the data stored on the iPad SO Favorites is encrypted, such that if one quits the SO app the data would be protected even if the iPad is stolen and the iPad user password (not SO password) is cracked. The introduction of 2 factor authentication by SO is also a plus.

  9. Does SpiderOak have the “copy link” function that DropBox has and which allows you to simply send to somebody a link to a document in your “public” folder rather than sharing a folder with that person?

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