Secure File Transfer and Sharing Apps are popping up everywhere. Most of their UI’s even look similar to ensure ease of use on your first file store or share. But are you familiar with the technology behind these apps? Let’s take a peek at what makes them all work.
Typical “brand name here” file storage and sharing providers use technologies referred to as “centralized.” Within the context of the applications and networks themselves, the term centralized has a couple of different definitions. We have centralization of the file storage and sharing repositories themselves, and we have centralization of the controls of the files being stored.
Centralization of file storage is one we’re all familiar with, and is the it’s the most typical of applications. It’s typical because it’s the most readily available type of storage and can be leased for a very small fee, so it makes perfect sense that most brand name providers offer this type of storage configuration.
Functionally, centralized file storage means that all the files you upload to the cloud are stored in a server farm that is typically collocated. What this means is that all of the files are stored in the same general place and location. While that doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, centralization of storage has a couple of downsides.
Storing all of your digital content in one place, even if your content is encrypted at rest, means that someone with nefarious intent only needs to breach a single digital gateway to access all the content stored within the repository. The more files and personal data stored in the repository, the more is at risk, and the more suffer the losses. This is why when you see these data breaches in the news, they typically affect millions of people. It’s because of the centralization of the stored content.
Everyone reading along can easily recall a recent data breach at a large company that has impacted millions of people. Equifax, Yahoo, Sony, the list goes on. The reason for this is that data breaches happen virtually every day. Storing all of your content in a single place exacerbates this risk.
Centralization of control is a second definition we need to consider. Centralization of control means that all of your files are in the direct control of the custodian and their respective workforce(s). That sounds relatively benign. So, what is the risk with this type of centralization?
Let’s say you’ve got your storage app, and decided to encrypt your files for both transfer and storage. This is a smart move on your part because it makes the content much more difficult to breach when it’s encrypted, except when the decryption keys are also held by the centralized controlling authority. They’re the ones that provided you with the encryption keys, so they, too, have your decryption keys. Is it really encrypted and protected if someone besides you can unlock it?
So, what other ways exist to store, transfer and share files, photos, and other digital content? The answer lies in “decentralization.” And just like centralization, there are a couple of different definitions that merit us looking into this further.
Decentralization of file storage: AXEL Go utilizes this technology to enable files to be stored in multiple physical and geographic locations across the network. Decentralized file storage means that your content isn’t simply in one server farm in one place where, if it’s breached, all of your content is at risk. Decentralized file storage uses technologies like “edge computing” that give you faster access to your digital content because it’s stored closer to your geographic location.
Decentralized file storage with file fragmentation: AXEL Go provides a file fragmentation method that breaks files apart into small pieces, and then encrypts these file fragments prior to storage. The fragments are sent to the network array and stored across multiple storage repositories. This means that even if someone were to breach one of the storage repositories, they would just find encrypted puzzle pieces that don’t make any sense to the naked eye.
Decentralization of Control: The AXEL Go network is powered by blockchain technology. The nodes that comprise the network are individually owned and operated by other users and supporters of the network. Since the nodes are not under the singular control of the company itself, the network becomes what all networks should be; a truly public network.
Okay, we’ve discussed some of the networks’ topology and ownership/management differences. What other aspects merit a closer look?
Metadata Preservation: Metadata is the information that summarizes the file itself. Metadata provides a file size, a file creation date, the date the file was last modified, the author of the file, and other information. While most people aren’t really concerned with metadata preservation, industries like Legal, Medical, and many Professional vocations are very concerned about metadata. When a file is moved from one place to another, it is often the case that some of the original metadata of that file is overwritten. This is one of the reasons that Legal professionals have such a difficult time using online and cloud file storage services. All of the dates (as an example) are changed to reflect the date the content was uploaded to the cloud storage service, corrupting the original metadata. AXEL Go preserves metadata so that content can always be relied on to be original.
File Encryption: We discussed earlier that file encryption might not be entirely reliable if someone else besides the file owner can actually decrypt the file. It’s like someone else having the key to your file cabinet. AXEL Go’s blockchain technology enables the encryption keys to be generated within the network and provided solely to the file owner. The good news is that nobody but you can encrypt and decrypt your files. The bad news is that if you lose your decryption keys, we can’t help you. And we believe that’s precisely how it should be. They’re your files. You control the rights of access to your content.
2-Factor Authentication: AXEL Go’s patented 2-factor authentication protocol can be applied to an entire account, or simply to a single file or folder. This is a significant benefit when you’re sharing files, and you want to make certain that only the intended recipient can unlock a file. It’s also a huge benefit if you’d just like to keep some files you store even more secure. Let’s say, as an example, that you have some tax documents you’d like to store. The documents themselves and/or the file folder housing those documents can be protected using AXEL Go’s proprietary 2 factor authentication protocol.
Secure Fetch is another technology innovation helping to power AXEL Go. Secure Fetch allows any user of the AXEL Go network to request a file transfer from someone who resides outside of the AXEL Go network, and provides a safe and secure method for the file to be collected. A recipient of a Secure Fetch file request is given a URL that is specific to that AXEL Go user’s file request. The recipient of the Secure Fetch can simply click on the URL and drop the file being requested into the page opened by the link. The file is then transferred securely, privately, and directly with the user requesting the Secure Fetch file transfer. It’s one of the safest file transfer technologies available today.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to secure file storage, transfer, and sharing. It’s crucial that we consider the technology when making our choices as to what applications we trust with our digital lives. We cordially invite you to try AXEL Go for free and see for yourself why it’s one of the fastest-growing file management platforms in the world.
Blog | “Difference Between Centralized Data Storage and Distributed Data Storage” Jan 2023. https://pulptastic.com/difference-between-centralized-data-storage-and-distributed-data-storage/
CSO Online | “Equifax Data Breach FAQ: What happened, who was affected, what was the impact?” https://www.csoonline.com/article/3444488/equifax-data-breach-faq-what-happened-who-was-affected-what-was-the-impact.html
New York Times | “All 3 Billion Yahoo Accounts Were Affected by 2013 Attack” Oct 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/03/technology/yahoo-hack-3-billion-users.html
BBC News | “Sony Pays up to $8m over employees’ hacked data”. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-34589710