Accellion Boosts Security For Dropbox Alternative - InformationWeek

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10/22/2012
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Accellion Boosts Security For Dropbox Alternative

Enterprise alternative to Dropbox enhances its mobile clients for iOS, Android, and Blackberry, lets administrators restrict document-opening apps to a pre-approved whitelist.

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Accellion is enhancing the security options available to users and IT for mobile file sharing with the latest version of its software, a "Dropbox for the enterprise" product.

Accellion provides file transfer technology for enterprises, with optional integration with SharePoint. Accellion introduced mobile clients for iOS, Android, and Blackberry last year, and now it is enhancing them by allowing administrators to restrict the applications that can open documents to those on a pre-approved whitelist.

This was a tricky move, given that mobile operating systems such as iOS typically control the process of displaying a list of apps capable of viewing or editing a given file type, said Hormazd Romer, senior director of product marketing for Accellion. However, Accellion will deny access to documents in its encrypted sandbox if the app making the request is not on the approved list. "As far as we know, we're the only ones to provide that," Romer said.

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The mobile app now also allows users to take files received by email and save them to the Accellion encrypted file store. From there, they can be shared through an Accellion secure workspace. The new edition of the app allows users to create new workspaces from the mobile app, in addition to accessing existing ones.

Accellion is one of several file-sharing vendors that has tried to capitalize on the popularity of Dropbox, combined with the security shortcomings of that service. Accellion also claims to have a security edge over enterprise-focused cloud file-sharing services such as Box. Although Accellion does offer a multitenant cloud service, it says 80% of its customers prefer a "private cloud" configuration. That includes some who opt for dedicated hosting of a server, but mostly it means customers deploy the software on their own networks, in a DMZ configuration that allows access from outside the firewall, Romer said.

In addition to upgrading the mobile app, Accellion released new plugins for Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Lync. In both cases, the plugins make it possible to share large files through a link to the file on an Accellion server, rather than as an embedded file attachment. Accellion already had a plugin for Outlook, as well as one for Office Communicator, the predecessor to Lync. The Lync plugin integrates Accellion file sharing with instant messaging, videoconferencing, and Web presentation sessions.

The updated Outlook plugin makes it possible to restrict the distribution of files--for example, to the original recipient of the email containing the link to a document, so that it can't be forwarded to anyone who shouldn't have access. The Outlook plugin now also enables setting an expiration date on a document-sharing link. Previously, these functions were only available through the Accellion Web interface.

Also, Accellion's mobile file sharing now includes support for Kerberos single sign-on, in addition to SAML and OAuth, to reduce the number of times users are required to enter passwords.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)

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