​Nextcloud 14 rolls out with two major security features

Want a full-featured, easy-to-run, open-source Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud to call your own? Check out the latest version of Nextcloud.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Are you worried about storing your business files on a public cloud, but don't have the in-house staff to install a high-end, do-everything cloud like OpenStack? If that's your situation, you need to look into Nextcloud.

Nextcloud, the fork of ownCloud, is a fully open-source Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud with some Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) services. You can install it on your own Linux server or on on a server at many hosting companies.

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While Nextcloud is ideal for personal or SMB use, it can be scaled up for enterprise level. In Japan, for example, Nextcloud Federation is used by NEC Platforms and Waffle Computer to bring federated file exchange and collaboration to millions of users. In addition, the German government recently moved 300,000 users to Nextcloud.

Another reason to turn to Nextcloud for your cloud needs is you know you can encrypt your files for your protection. Dropbox, for example, the public cloud storage company, recently announced it wouldn't support ecryptfs encrypted Linux ext4 filesystems. That will never be a worry with Nextcloud.

Nextcloud 14 comes with two new major security features. These are a pair of safer ways to authorize new users and logins.

The first, Video Verification, requires a user to use a video call to get a password. This eliminates the risk that a spouse, kid, or hacker with access to a user's email or mobile device can snoop into cloud-based files.

The other, and more useful, is a new two-factor authentication (2FA) service named gateway. This enables users to access the cloud files using the secure messaging apps Signal and Telegram, some SMS gateways, or Yubikey NEO as second factor for their authentication.

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For productivity, Nextcloud Federation has been improved. Besides simply sharing files across Nextcloud nodes, groups can now share files across servers. In addition, you can share Calendars and Contacts and make video calls across Nextcloud servers.

As Nextcloud offers more PaaS features, it's system administration controls have kept pace. It's been restructured so sysadmins' can more easily deal with larger installations. Nextcloud also now supports logging to the systemd log, and users are notified of major changes in a new release with a popup on first login.

With this release, Nextcloud has also caught up the EU's GDPR and the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act requirements. This release does this with a Data Protection Confirmation app and separate audit log file. This complements the existing Impressum/legal notice and data request apps available in the Nextcloud Compliance Kit.

Under the hood for developers, there have been many changes, additions, and deprecations. The new application programming interface (API) provides access to the versioning and trash features. This makes it easier to for desktop and mobile client programmers to integrate these functions in upcoming releases. The upcoming Android client release will come with support for retrieving older versions of files and undo file deletions.

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Finally, Nextcloud now supports PHP 7.0, 7.1, and 7.2. Nextcloud's developers are also "committed to supporting the upcoming 7.3 release as soon as we can."

So, if you're interested in an open-source cloud that you, and not some large company controls, may I recommend you try Nextcloud out. I think you'll be very pleased. I'm been using it for years.

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