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Study of the security in cloud storage services: Analysis of Dropbox and Mega

Posted on 01/27/2015, by Jesús Díaz (INCIBE)
Study of the security in cloud storage services

Although it may seem recent, the concept of a cloud of global electronic services was first put forward in 1963, in a memorandum for ARPA by Joseph C.R. Licklider, where he contemplated the advantages of a network infrastructure that allowed sharing services. Obviously, since then, the transmission, processing and information storage capacities have grown notably, deriving in what is known today as the cloud.

These “cloud” services are increasingly popular, with a growing number of users, being storage applications amongst the most common services. As shown in the following graphic, according to recent stats from Eurostat, on average, 21% of citizens in the European Union (EU-28) used some cloud storage system during 2014 to save files, and 15% of them used them to share information. In some countries (Denmark, UK, Luxembourg, Sweden and Holland), it surpasses 30% and 20% respectively (in some cases, by quite a margin).

Graphic usage of cloud storage services in the European Union

- Usage of cloud storage services in the European Union -

However, by increasingly uploading more information to the Internet it is also necessary to increase the security measures and protect the privacy of its users.

Therefore, in the present study different common aspects in these storage services are examined, with the objective of establishing a framework for its analysis. Specifically:

  • Main factors that could influence the security and privacy of the system are introduced: encryption, authentication, deduplication, information, data deletion, etc.
  • From these factors, a common analysis framework is established which enables the assessment of cloud storage applications, keeping in mind the main actions that can be carried out.
  • As an example, the security of the website versions of Dropbox and Mega, two of the main actors in the current market, are analysed.

The "Security in cloud storage applications: Analysis of Dropbox and Mega" study is available in Spanish and English.