Do You Use Dropbox, or Other Cloud Services To Send Files? 3 Privacy Tips To Hop On Now

Do you want to send a big file quickly and for free? You have a lot of easy, convenient cloud options to choose from — Dropbox, and YouSENDit, to name a few.

And do you also want to send it securely? Now, that can be trickier. Especially if you’re sending sensitive information or work files. Here’s what you should know:

First, don’t use a public folder. That’s pretty obvious.

Second, make sure your service uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption or the newer Transport Layer Security (TLS). This means your data is encrypted during transmission so third parties can’t get their hands on it. Only your computer and the secure server on the other end can recognize the data (online shopping would be impossible without this). Dropbox includes encryption in its free offering and so does Adobe SendNow, but YouSENDit only offers encryption as a pay-per-use add-on. And if you want encryption with Box, you need to subscribe.

Third, do this EVERY TIME you send anything important up to the “economy” cloud: encrypt it yourself first!

It only takes a few seconds, adds another layer of protection and is a good habit, particularly if the information you’re sending is private or belongs to someone else (like your boss). You can encrypt a file directly from within programs like Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, more), Apple iWork (Pages, Numbers, more), Adobe Acrobat and others, or use third-party encrypting software. Just remember to send your recipient the password!

The peace of mind is worth the effort because while the “economy cloud” offers great benefits, cyber criminals are constantly coming up with new ways to get at your data, plus things go wrong with the cloud on a regular basis. For example, this summer Dropbox inadvertently allowed people to log into other people’s accounts without needing passwords. Dropbox said only 1% of its accounts were accessed during the vulnerable period, which seems like a small percentage … unless you’re in it!