On this International Data Privacy Day, being celebrated in over 40 countries, my thoughts turn - well, actually they do every day! - to what my Netsso.com can do to enhance people's privacy online. Data privacy is something most people think is generally speaking a "good idea". But only a few seem to care enough to value it very much in the market place, even when they read about major breaches on a daily basis. "Convenience", when it's the alternative, seems to win out most times.
Some people even regard privacy arrangements as normally unnecessary. For example, I am occasionally asked why Netsso offers its users "private" bookmark collections, when, surely, bookmarks should be public as they always connect to public web pages. Well, the situation is that those bookmarks in Netsso which go to your social media and other sites which require that you enter credentials before getting in, are created in a special process in Netsso, and the links created include your credentials. These links must be private to you alone, or otherwise interlopers, or bad actors, could hack them and collect your credentials to all your membership places. So, they are encrypted by default or by your option, with one simple click. Netsso gathers and organises all other data links too, including online files.
It does take a minute longer to make these "login links" as they are called. But the privacy mode in which they are managed brings together a number of real advantages to you in your web management and navigation:
* You - and only you - can search for your links from inside Netsso, even when they are fully encrypted, and no outside agency can observe the search and track you, for profiling purposes
* Your encrypted mode can never be broken by hackers, not even by Netsso administration people.
* You can very quickly switch from destination to destination without having to pause, remember the password and type it. So, you can use very strong, even random passwords for your web places. Netsso logs you in, where needed
Our Secure Online File Management utility, the second of Netsso's three integrated products, is even more Privacy oriented. The integration enables links to each of your files online to be bookmarked and managed as other links. You could have files stored in three or four different public storage services - Dropbox, etc - and search for a file in all of them at the same time, via searching in the links in Netsso. It really doesn't matter what storage a file is in; the more storages you use for their free space quotas, the better off you are. You just manage these storages via their file links in your Netsso
But where encryption makes its greatest contribution, in my opinion, is when you load files in your storages, through your Netsso Secure Online File Manager. You can click to encrypt each individual file, and then you have links in Netsso to those encrypted files held online. You can pick up the files on any computer (or Android), and they will decrypt there (for you alone). Or you can send an encrypted file, via its Netsso link, to any other member, and it will re-encrypt for his Netsso. Imagine if your friends, colleagues, business partners are all on Netsso. exchanging files with each other - you have a personal Private Network for internet communications!
Now, about the guys who say that Privacy isn't worth the hassle, too complicated to manage peoples passwords, or to pass a file password to some recipient without a "man in the middle" getting at it, etc. - I would say that's the main reason why non-users of privacy don't use it - based on past unsatisfactory attempts. But that doesn't apply in Netsso, where strong privacy is achieved without any special "password management" mechanisms at user level. In fact, all the user has to do when he takes any file management action, is decide to click the "encrypt" option or not. He never has to remember or type a password. Just clicks, no more.
Netsso's other integrated module is "groups", which any member can set up in seconds for any purpose. They look and act like the two market leading group collaboration tools, Teams and Slack. But they have privacy. (For that reason, Office 365 documents must be downloaded and edited/ encrypted, like desktop Office files, in your local Netsso, where all encryption/ decryption takes place, an inviolable rule of good encryption.). The Groups can be divided into sub-groups, and the manager of the group can decide which members have access to different parts of the Group's structure. Imagine, a teacher sets up his student body as a Group, for knowledge resource provision, group and individual coaching, and divides the lot into different classes, project teams, with an individual desktop (folder) for each student, for confidential exchanges between student and teacher. Projects can be undertaken privately among selected small teams, and results presented and discussed in the broader class later. (In fact, a whole project can be packed into one folder and that can be zapped to other schools or groups using Netsso, in seconds, all privately)
So, the scheme outlined above obviously enhances the privacy of the owners' data online. But does it do so at the cost of convenience, as is traditionally assumed? Well, I suppose it depends on the particular circumstance and application, but overall, I would tend to think not. Netsso offers web-based documents which can be edited and stored online in encrypted mode and it downloads other files (e.g. Office docs ) for local encryption and re-uploading. But some other vendors' web-based documents can only be edited and stored online in a process that is incompatible with encryption . The choice to be made is between securing a file, then uploading it (- in one action in Netsso-) or or saving the few seconds which encryption might take and saving the file in clear text on a server managed by a third party. Many people go for the perceived convenience option, but many of those probably think encryption is complicated and difficult. It doesn't have to be. Your Privacy in Netsso is achieved only with clicks.
First published in LinkedIn, on International Data Privacy Day, January 28, 2021