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Author Topic: Secure Cloud backup -e.g., Digital Lifeboat - what alternatives are there?  (Read 5611 times)

IainB

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Doing some research to see if there was a really secure Cloud-based backup solution, I googled the subject, and one of the things I came up with was a rather novell (to me) service called Digital Lifeboat. The service was apparently launched sometime in early 2011, however, for unexplained reasons it is to be shut down on 2013-06-28.
If you go to their website: http://www.digitallifeboat.com/
you get shunted to: http://www.digitalli...om/ShuttingDown.aspx
- where you get this message:
Digital Lifeboat backup service 01 - closing down message.jpgSecure Cloud backup -e.g., Digital Lifeboat - what alternatives are there?

The email sent to users apparently said (this from a utorrent forum post):
Digital Lifeboat backup service 02 - closing down email.jpgSecure Cloud backup -e.g., Digital Lifeboat - what alternatives are there?

What is Digital Lifeboat?

  • The operational principle of the service seems to be automated data backup via distributed encrypted file fragments (using steganographic techniques) across a P2P network, offering a highly secure and sort of virtual RAID storage with "repairable" data. It looks amazingly secure and potentially useful for any PC user wishing to have a high level of security, privacy and anonymity of backup.

  • The concept is explained:
    • in a YouTube video here: Free Online Cloud Backup Security from Digital Lifeboat
    • in some quite good blog posts covering some relevant issues, here.
    • in "About Us" on their website, where it says:
      Spoiler
      How Do We Do It?
      Digital Lifeboat has been created for all personal computer users who store photos, music, videos and documents on their PCs and would be sad if they lost them. It is our vision to create a software service which protects your “digital treasures” with easy to use software. We are building a business and promise to serve our customers, and to be there when we are most needed.

      Our founders have an extraordinary amount of experience with centralized storage, or what many would call “data centers.” They understand the cost and time to set them up and run them. They also know that they have significant security and operational risks. It was with this knowledge that we started Digital Lifeboat, a distributive storage model for online backup and recovery.

      It is our belief that as our lives become more digital, and as we store more of our memories, our finances, our entertainment and our work life on our computers, we need a simple and secure way to protect those files, and restore lost or deleted files. As simple as that sounds, what we do is very complicated. Our solution is a distributed storage cloud service. Digital Lifeboat will compress and encrypt each file selected for backup. We then process your encrypted file with an Erasure Coding algorithm that creates many fragments of your file. Once these fragments are prepared for transfer into the Digital Lifeboat Cloud, we then securely send and store each of them outside of your home on different computers. These encrypted, erasure coded, fragments are invisible on their storage hosts.

      Using advanced steganographic techniques we safely store encrypted, erasure coded, fragments on your PC from other members of the Digital Lifeboat cloud. These fragments are invisible to your computer and it operates as if they are not there. When you add more data to your hard drive, they will automatically be erased if they are in the way. Our service is self-healing and self-managing, so we will replicate those erased fragments and distribute them to other parts of the Digital Lifeboat Cloud. We only use a fraction of your free disk space, but you are never prohibited form adding more data to your hard drive. Indeed, your system does not recognize the data we store, and you do not have to manage it in any way.

      DL (Digital Lifeboat) is like an insurance policy for your digital life. We are there when you need us. We are working to make the entire process easy – from installing our software, through the backup process, and of course the most valuable service of all recovering your data.


Whereas I would always evaluate such a service after trialling it and before using/buying it, my initial impression of this untried service is that it would seem to meet all the requirements for a high level of security, privacy and anonymity of backup, with the major potential costs being:
  • (a) the direct costs of service and
  • (b) the indirect costs of bandwidth utilisation.

Like most other Cloud-based solutions, one major risk this service has/had would relate to its potential for persistent reliability (QED, it has just been unilaterally and summarily discontinued). I would like to know why the service had to be killed.

Perry Mowbray

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Don't know about Digital Lifeboat, but I use SpiderOak and am very happy with it (especially concerning privacy, but also the smarts they use)

I can offer you a referral link if you're interested (increases your free amount of space and gets me a bit more)  ;)

Jibz

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There is a whole range of options that give you different trade-offs between security and ease-of-use.

Something like Tarsnap is probably very secure, but not that easy to use on Windows. At the other end are a lot of the services mentioned in the Help me choose an online backup service thread on this forum.

I think SpiderOak is a good compromise between security and usability.

Personally I use CrashPlan, partly because it runs as a service and can back up other accounts on my computer besides the one I am logged in on (not sure if SpiderOak have implemented this yet), but also because I think the 100 GB increments in data make SpiderOak too expensive (I am paying $60 for 80 GB instead of $100, and if I had 101 GB I would still be paying $60 instead of $200).

4wd

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Tresorit - You can see if you can still get 50GB here.

http://lifehacker.co...torage-from-tresorit

Sorry, on my phone.

Jibz

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It is probably worth making the distinction between cloud storage, syncing, and backup here (although some of these companies are trying to cover more than one area).

Storage usually means you upload files and then you are able to access them from other devices. The cloud acts like a USB drive you always have with you.

Syncing is often a group of files or folders that are automatically uploaded to the cloud every time you make a local change, and downloaded every time you (or somebody else) made a change on another device that has the same files synced. The cloud works as intermediate storage, giving the illusion that the synced files are the same on all devices.

Backup services keep a copy of important files from your computer in the cloud, and make sure the cloud is synced to reflect any changes you make, but keeping backups over time so you can restore any files that were unintentionally changed or deleted (but there is no syncing the other way, and only one source). Here it works a bit like making a regular backup on DVDs.

Amazon offers storage only. DropBox is a good example of storage and syncing. CrashPlan is backup only. SpiderOak seems to do all three.

zenzai

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Personally I use CrashPlan, partly because it runs as a service and can back up other accounts on my computer besides the one I am logged in on (not sure if SpiderOak have implemented this yet), but also because I think the 100 GB increments in data make SpiderOak too expensive (I am paying $60 for 80 GB instead of $100, and if I had 101 GB I would still be paying $60 instead of $200).

I'm using CrashPlan too, the best I've seen yet. Recently I also got a DrivePop account, though only because they had a special offer on BitsDoJour for a Pro account ($60 for lifetime unlimited space unlimited computers). I'm not impressed though with their software nor the upload speed. And I suspect their host company LiveDrive is comitting suicide with its reseller offer:

http://www.livedrive.com/ForResellers


wraith808

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I say that the one thing to remember is something 40 says- if you're not paying (or not paying a reasonable amount) then you're not the customer, you're the product.  And you're way too likely to see that digital lifeboat message about it's ending happen sooner or later.  Not a good feeling for something you're backing up with.

I tried a whole lot of them, and posted a few mini-reviews.  I'm currently using a combination Amazon s3 with Syncovery (for things that I just want to back up) and Cubby (for things that I want to access regularly and/or sync).  I think that both of those are reasonable (for me, and for the company in terms of money spent) and backed by solid companies (Amazon and Logmein)

On a side note, I stopped using Jungle Disk because I realized that I was paying about a 33% premium on s3 services billed through them.

IainB

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...I would like to know why the service had to be killed.
   I guessed that the reason was probably a financially non-viable business model, or infeasibility, or police/SS pressure that led to this "cryptographically unbreakable" data backup service being closed down. I suppose another reason could be a mixture of all three reasons.
   Because the Digital Lifeboat system was redolent of BitTorrent functionality, today I did a search of BitTorrent-related comments in the DC Forum, and then I realised why Digital Lifeboat may have been shut down - viz: it is an application concept that seems to be already being worked on and moved into the public domain.
   For example, including:

   I suspect that such a P2P "cryptographically unbreakable" data backup service would be anathema to the police/SS/NSA from a surveillance prospect.
   The thing about Cloud storage and Cloud-based services is that (as we now know thanks to the Snowden leaks) the "Big Data" and "Social Network" providers  - including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, for example - have been obliged to act as data suppliers to the NSA, for NSA (and other) surveillance agency purposes. So you categorically cannot expect the common "Big Data" and "Social Network" providers to be not breaching your privacy/security/confidentiality.
   Since Them are bigger than Us, I suspect that it may be only a matter of time before operating such P2P "cryptographically unbreakable" data backup services in what could effectively be a virtual "Dark Net" could become illegal, or at least "showing a suspicious intent".

Note: This might be handy as a BitTorrent summary: 4 Things You Didn’t Know About BitTorrent

kyrathaba

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I regularly backup projects to Pogo Cloud, adrive (free 50 GB) and box.net (my personal fave)

4wd

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I only use it things I might want to access remotely and syncing of some software between machines:

For things that it doesn't matter if someone else can access: ADrive (free 50GB), Box.net (free 50GB+25GB)

Everything else is encrypted: SpiderOak (free 2GB), Tresorit (free 50GB)

So out of a possible 177GB I use about 5GB :)