Storage Utility Upgrades Security

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 @ 04:08 PM gHale

Dropbox is now offering two-factor authentication, a system that makes it much harder for hackers to capture valid credentials for a person’s account.

Dropbox, one of the most widely used web-based storage services, said last month it planned on introducing two-factor authentication after attackers stole user names and passwords from another website and used them to access accounts.

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While it is relatively easy for hackers to obtain a person’s user name and password using malware and social engineering, it is much harder for them to intercept one-time passcodes, although it is possible. The codes, sent by SMS (short message service) or generated by a device, expire quickly.

Users will first need to upgrade their client to version 1.5.12. The user can then turn on the feature through Dropbox’s website on the “security” tab in the account settings. Users can opt to receive the six-digit code sent by SMS to their mobile phone when a new device accesses their account.

A user can also obtain a valid code by using an application that supports the Time-Based One-Time Password protocol, such as Google Authenticator, Amazon AWS MFA or Authenticator, according to Dropbox. Apple users can opt to generate a code from the terminal application using the OATH tool, Dropbox said.

While setting up two-factor authentication, users get a 16-digit backup code that unlock their account if they lose their phones and can’t obtain codes through SMS or an application.

Dropbox is also working on a feature for users to “untrust” their current browser or all other browsers, which would mean the user would need a new code upon the next attempted login.

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