In preparation for its IPO, Dropbox is warming up to corporate customers reports InfoSecurity. the general consensus about Dropbox within business is that it is an excellent service, but lacks security. Data breaches,a lack of visibility into and control over how stored and shared files are used make the app seem insecure to many corporate users. GigaOM points out that large companies, including IBM (IBM), forbid its use. One of the criticisms, InfoSecurity cites is that employees leaving the company (either through termination or leaving to join a competitor) will automatically take any potentially sensitive files stored in their Dropbox accounts when they leave the company.
The new Dropbox Team (the corporate multi-user offering) dashboard seeks to make that more attractive. This paid-for service costs $795 per year for 5 users plus $125 for each additional user. The new dashboard provides the team leader with greater visibility and control over which members can access individual files, and what they can do with those files. In particular, if a team member leaves the company or just the team, access to the stored files can be immediately blocked.
These new features do not prevent an employee opening a separate personal account and using that to exfiltrate sensitive files, but InfoSecurity claims they make it more likely that it would be a planned (and probably illegal) act. However, the greater part of the shadow IT use of Dropbox is likely to occur simply because staff are seeking to make their jobs easier and more efficient. By providing an official Dropbox Team account, the need to do that becomes less pressing – and Dropbox will benefit from increased income while business benefits from increased control.
A second new security feature within the new dashboard is the ability for the team leader to insist on and ensure the use of two-factor authentication by the team members. Optional two-factor authentication was announced by Dropbox last July. It followed the breach involving users’ re-used passwords. “Our investigation found that usernames and passwords recently stolen from other websites were used to sign in to a small number of Dropbox accounts,” announced the company at the time. Two-factor authentication can solve this issue, and the team leader can now insist upon it, and ensure that individual team members do not subsequently turn it off.
It is possible that this improvement to the corporate Dropbox may be the start of preparation for a Dropbox IPO. IDC estimates that the enterprise file-sharing market will be worth $20 billion by 2015, and Dropbox is currently valued at around $4 billion.
“Over 2 million businesses have people inside them using Dropbox. It’s already pervasive, we just want to make it easier for IT to say yes to those people asking for Dropbox,” Sujay Jaswa, VP of business development for Dropbox said in an interview with GigaOM.
Among business accounts, GigaOM says Google (GOOG) is getting traction with the Google Apps–Google Drive combo and Microsoft (MSFT) integrates SkyDrive storage with Office and Windows 8. Box, the company most associated with Dropbox-of-the-Enterprise, touts its support of all client devices, but targets larger companies incluing Netflix, Dow Chemical and Procter & Gamble.
Other competitors in the Dropbox-of-the-Enterprise niche are Accellion’s kitedrive, Egnyte, GroupLogic’s activEcho, SurDoc and ownCloud. Still, it’s hard not to see all these rivals battling it out for the same paying business customers down the road.
At $125 per seat it seems awfully expensive, is it good enough for corporate IT to warm up to Dropbox in time to save its IPO?