Dropbox for Business bolsters security features

Despite being accused of being "hostile to privacy", Dropbox has announced new features to Dropbox for Business that helps businesses ensure their data is safe and secure.

Dropbox has announced it is adding new features to Dropbox for Business after 16 months since launch. 

Placing security at the forefront of its cloud-based service, the company is improving the sharing permission of links by adding password protection and expiration to ensure the links do not say active forever. These links are often shared via email to other users that do not have a Dropbox account.

There's also the Read-Only shared folders function where administrators will be able to control who will be able to view and edit it, or only to be able to view it.

Ilya Fushman, Dropbox for Business head of product, told ZDNet enhancing the security aspect of Dropbox for Business will help companies achieve two objectives: Making sure its employees are productive and ensuring their data is safe and secure.

"The way we build these products is to give people the most freedom and ease of use, while giving the organisation information and tools to control the flow of visibility of where the information goes," he said.

"For example, we give admins the ability to restrict sharing within an organisation. With the link feature, we're giving people the ability to set things like password and expiration on these links so if you send somebody an email you want to make sure this links doesn't stay active forever."

Last week former government contractor Edward Snowden accused Dropbox of being "hostile to privacy" , warning users to be more privacy conscious when it comes to online cloud storage, particularly since now Condoleezza Rice was recently appointed to the company's board. 

Ross Piper, Dropbox enterprise strategy vice president, has previously defended the company's decision to hire Rice , and said the company's privacy policy remains unchanged. 

"It doesn't change our privacy policy. Our reasons for bringing Dr Rice on board centres around her incredible experience managing very large scale organisations ... as well as dealing with very highly-talented individuals, which suits our engineering culture very well," he said.

"We think we've built a pretty good and trusting relationship with our users, and we want to maintain that through everything. We've made the decision about Dr Rice based on the reasons that I've described, and we think it's still our responsibility to earn that trust every day and we will continue to do everything to create clearer transparency and conform to the privacy requirements of our users."

Other new features that will be added to Dropbox for Business include being able to search folders through the full-text search function, and and giving its 300,000 app developers access to shared folders via the API as a part of a "long path" of development. It will initially give developers the ability to do some basic management, but ultimately Fushman said developers will be able to "build a collaborative experience on top of Dropbox in a much rich and deeper way".

Fushman said the additional features have been introduced to address one of the biggest pain points that its 300 million worldwide customers share, and that's adapting to a changing ecosystem that is going beyond the desktop.

"Mobility is becoming a much bigger part in what we do, everybody has got a tablet, everybody has got a phone, business is becoming more distributed, more international, and you have to do business with people overseas in different time zone, and making sure you can get access to information at any given point and know it's going to be there, so giving people that piece of mind is just the basic part of it," he said.