SpiderOak gained extra exposure due to the fact that their backup service was recommended by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. They are a mature and well-known backup service that also provides syncing and file sharing services. Even though their reputation is impeccable and their service is loved by the masses, you need to understand the security concerns of cloud computing before you make the choice to use an online data backup service.
The Evolution of the Internet and Security Concerns of Cloud Backup Services
In the past, the vast majority of corporate and personal data was contained on servers and storage devices that were locally managed and administered in-house. For example, a corporation would keep their servers onsite at one of their corporate offices. Likewise, home users would take advantage of local PC storage or even a NAS device. From a security standpoint, maintaining your own storage and backup services is great because you don’t need to worry about other organizations. Your data is within your control – and no one else (unless your network infrastructure becomes compromised). But within the last several years, the Internet as well as data center technologies have made the transition to cloud computing.
Instead of needing to manage your storage hardware and data on your own, cloud computing offers storage as a service. Instead of spending time and money maintaining your network infrastructure, personnel expenses, and hardware resource expenses, a cloud computing and backup service will take care of all the dirty work for you. Your costs are reduced, you save a lot of time, you suffer fewer headaches, and you can access your data from anywhere. Sounds pretty great, right?
There are just two drawbacks to cloud computing that any technology savvy or security conscious individual is aware of: fear and uncertainty. You forfeit complete control of your data when you put it in someone else’s hands. The biggest concern with cloud computing and data backup services today is the idea that the government or a hacker could breach your backup provider’s network and steal your data.
SpiderOak addresses the problems of cloud storage security in their backup services, giving users the peace of mind that their data won’t be compromised. They claim that nobody – including the government as well as their employees – can access your data once it is stored on their servers. They do this with two important security features of their service. Firstly, data is encrypted as it is in transit to their storage servers. This ensures that an Internet bully, script kid, malicious thief, or government agency can’t intercept your data and read it. Secondly, the data isn’t decrypted once it reaches their private infrastructure. That is, your data will stay encrypted while it sits on their storage servers.
There is just one thing about their product that concerns people: their data backup software isn’t open source, so we have no idea how it operates from a technical perspective. Some people fear that the government (likely the N.S.A.) could create a backdoor into their services and gather data as they have in the past – and we would be none the wiser.
Now these types of people may just be ‘chicken littles’ that are worried about the sky falling, but there actually is a small amount of risk. Though Internet security laws are shifting towards protecting the information of American citizens, most people still don’t trust the N.S.A. and the government due to data monitoring scandals in the past.
Their pricing is especially attractive since they offer up to 2 GB of storage absolutely free. In addition, they offer 1TB of storage and backup space for the low, low price of $12.00 per month. If you subscribe annually, the price drops to $129.00 per year. The service is affordable when you consider the security and service grade you get when you signup. Some may compare to other providers and disagree with SpiderOak being affordable or even cost effective, but I would argue that safekeeping your data on cloud storage should not go to the lowest bidder. Businesses, groups and enterprises also benefit from large scaled plans for multiple users, giving more flexibility to various applications and needs.
Their features are fairly standard in the data backup industry. They provide a syncing service so that your data is constantly backed up, and they also offer a service that automatically backups data to the same folder, effectively dumping data in one directory so your information is synced across PCs, laptops, and mobile devices. As mentioned before, they also offer security features. But one of the most attractive features is their ability to track and backup different versions of your files, so you can revert to an earlier copy of a backup should you need to.
As a backup service, the speed that you experience is determined by at least two factors – the speed of your Internet connection and the size of the file you are trying to backup. As such, it can be hard to nail down a ‘typical’ speed for data transfers since they are so variable.
Their customer service is pretty good. They offer a knowledge-base, FAQs, as well as a technical manual. Unfortunately, it is near impossible to speak with a representative or support technician when you have a problem since they don’t offer a phone number. This is not atypical of businesses that provide a free service, and the only way to contact support is via email. Additionally, the company is transparent about their platform, technologies, and overall efforts to be as secure of a cloud storage provider as they are.