The word "breach" can send shivers down your spine. When it comes to data storage in the cloud, it's even more worrisome. Several weeks ago, Dropbox announced that the passwords for thousands of users had been stolen, leading some business executives to mandate that employees stop using the service.
But the reality of doing business in a mobile-dominated world is that users will find a way to sync their files, one way or another. These top enterprise-grade cloud storage options offer admin consoles, standard file encryption and more peace of mind.
Commentary: SpiderBox Also a Viable Dropbox Alterative
(For those who want to stick with Dropbox, consider the slightly more enterprise-focused Dropbox for Teams, which does have an admin console. Also note that Dropbox has since added two-factor authentication.)
Recently acquired by EMC, Syncplicity offers the same sync and share features of Dropbox with a decided enterprise slant. For example, admins can control which devices can access cloud storage inside or outside the company. Data retention policies can help admins find and remove documents that violate company data protection policies.
In a nod to the existing data protection measures in a large enterprise that allows an admin to wipe the data on connected laptop, Syncplicity also provides a way to wipe a user account for computers and mobile devices. The service uses audited security encryption technologies such as SOC 1 and standards such as the Department of Defense's DoD 5220.22. Finally, the admin console is more robust than some; accounts can be pre-configured for access to specific files and folders for employee groups.
The name might not make you think of an industrial strength cloud service, but Cubby—from the same company that makes the LogMeIn remote access tool—is a sure step above Dropbox. All user files are protected using SSL encryption; each user gets a separate encryption key. (In a few weeks, Cubby will release a beta for an optional high-security mode that will store encryption keys off-line so that only the user has access to the key.) During a data transfer between users, encryption keys form a tight bond between the two endpoints.
One interesting differentiator for Cubby is that information is stored in a data center owned and operated by LogMeIn, not Amazon or another third party. Like LogMeIn itself, Cubby works on the desktop and through a mobile app in addition to working through any browser.
Huddle is more than just a place to keep files. The new service, designed for the enterprise, is more like a collaborative environment. This is also one of the strengths of the service in terms of security; repositories are organized according to workgroups and for those inside and outside the company.
Because the service is not designed to be a cloud storage service, the system tracks all documents and transfers. Admins can look up the rights to any document, check who has ownership and see how the document has been distributed in the organization. They can even see a history of comments on documents. Like LogMeIn, Huddle uses a company-owned data center that is ISO 27001 certified. The company conducts regular penetration testing and use enterprise-class firewalls.
Like most of the cloud storage systems listed here, Egnyte includes the usual admin console and file encryption options, but several unique feature make this cloud storage portal worth considering. Admins can assign permissions on a more granular level—down to sub-folders within sub-folders.
While other storage tools provide desktop and mobile apps, Egnyte also provides a way to create a mapped network drive or access from FTP. There's also a way to generate an audit report showing permission and encryption levels. An enterprise version provides up to 3TB of storage and an unlimited number of users, while a unique "server sync" feature creates a sync between a server and the cloud.
Another smart alternative to Dropbox, ShareFile (now owned by Citrix) is a stark departure from consumer-level features. IT admins can use a unique "poison pill" option that sets an expiration point for any file. They can also perform a remote data wipe for any computer or mobile device.
For those who want to continue using on-premises storage, a version of ShareFile called StorageZones works only on corporate networks, not in the cloud. Users in the organization can use unique features to request a file from another employee or share a massive file up to 100GB with a co-worker or someone outside of the company.
John Brandon is a former IT manager at a Fortune 100 company who now writes about technology. He has written more than 2,500 articles in the past 10 years. You can follow him on Twitter @jmbrandonbb. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, on Facebook, and on Google +.