Conversations about life & privacy in the digital age

Private and encrypted storage for Bitcoin? SpiderOak gives it a try!

Unfortunately, our testing has now concluded. We had a great response and plan to take bitcoin payment hopefully at the beginning of next year, but will be unable to integrate that into our system at this very moment. If you want a personal email notifying you when it is set up, please email erin[at]spideroak[dot]com. Thanks!

 

 

We at SpiderOak believe in privacy. And we believe in always pushing the bounds of privacy further and further into the Internet. To that end, we have made the decision to do a proof-of-concept around accepting Bitcoins as payment for SpiderOak service. As Bitcoin becomes a more ‘mainstream’ method of currency exchange, we thought it only natural to extend it’s concept to SpiderOak as another privacy promoting element.

For this initial test, we will be manually accepting payment for 100GB/1-year accounts. We are conducting this initial test to gauge interest and if the demand is present we will possibly implement an actual API-based Bitcoin payment system. This would of course enable anyone to make payment for their SpiderOak accounts with Bitcoins.

Our Trial Offering: 

  • We offer a total of 25 x 100GB SpiderOak account upgrades for 1 year ($100 value) to customers wishing to use Bitcoin as payment.
  • The cost per 100GB account during this trial period will be 0.75 BTC (a 25% discount vs. Fiat)
  • To purchase a 100GB account upgrade, you need only email bitcoin@spideroak.com for your personal Bitcoin deposit address for the payment. Once payment is made, we will send you an email with an upgrade-code to use for the 100GB upgrade.

Ultimately this is our way of helping to support both the concept of privacy as well as promoting the Bitcoin community by proving that business are indeed taking Bitcoin seriously. We are eager and curious to hear feedback so please feel free to reach out to us anytime with additional reactions or thoughts.

HO! HO! HO! – YOU CAN BE GENEROUS AS A SPIDEROAK ‘SECRET SANTA’!

(We like our Santa’s like we like our data; secret, private and secure)
People of many backgrounds and belief systems spend time in December reflecting on the year that is coming to an end, setting goals and making plans for what’s ahead. This month brings out the generosity and excitement in many of us which is why we thought it would be nice to do something a little different this year.

A popular holiday activity is called Secret Santa. You may know of it by a different name; however, the idea is the same. Secret Santa is a fun and easy way for a group of friends, family members or co-workers to exchange gifts. One very well known ‘Secret Santa’ program is the ‘Reddit Secret Santa’ (http://redditgifts.com/exchanges/secret-santa-2012) whereby community members all over the world trade holiday gifts.

Being both members and fans of the reddit community and also significant fans of the ‘privacy’ concept, we at SpiderOak decided to run our own 100% free ‘Secret Santa’ program.

I can give away things for free?

Yep! Starting today, you can send anyone a gift to whomever you choose, on us! The gift will be a random selection between:

 

- iPod Touch (1 prize available)
- A pair of socks (5 prizes available)
- 100 GB plan (10 prizes available)
- 5 GB plan (1000 prizes available)
- 30% discount on all SpiderOak yearly premium data plans (unlimited prizes available)

But how does it work? Can I do it right away?

Yes. Simply go to https://secretsanta.spideroak.com and enter the name, the email address, and personal message (optional) to one of your friends, colleagues, pets or family members.

On December 25th we will randomly match email addresses from the pool of entries with gifts from the prize-pool and send out a ‘Secret Santa Email’ notifying your recipient of what ‘you’ have given them and how they can claim their gift. If you enter a personal message, this will also be delivered to the recipient and joy will be had by all!

Please enjoy the SpiderOak Secret Santa program and have a safe, happy & healthy holiday season!

SpiderOak IAmA/AUA on reddit.com

We at Spideroak.com are mid-development of a new HTML5 mobile client, have grown quite fast in the last year and feel that it’s once again time for us to chat with people about our dreams, aspirations, plans, technology and service.

Based on this a few of us in the team behind SpiderOak will be answering questions in a AUA post on /r/IAmA on the social news site Reddit.com.

For those unfamiliar IAmA is short for “I Am A” and AUA is short for “Ask Us Anything” and describes a post where someone or a group of people answers questions from the reddit community.

We at SpiderOak are doing this as a way of connecting with the community, spread awareness around online privacy, security and cloud storage in general.

We are also happy to hand out 5GB of free storage for life to new signups through code ‘reddit5‘. For the next 48 hours, just sign-up as usual, install the client, set up your first device, click ‘buy more space’ and the code will give you 5GB of free cloud storage for life.

We hope you will take the time to show up and say hello and maybe ask us a question or two! You can find the IAmA post right here.

It’s time to kill ‘online’. And buy clean milk.

As someone who has been ‘online’ since the early 90′s, listening to the emerging conversation around privacy, security, and integrity makes me want to flip a virtual table.

Having managed and built such sexy things as ‘direct marketing and selection systems’ for longer than I care to admit, I can honestly say that the argument against the silent collection of user data as being one that “degrades the experience for the majority of users” (Article link: Yahoo will ignore Do Not Track for IE10 users) is bullshit – pardon my frankness. A more honest description would read somewhere along the lines of ‘we make lots of money selling and distributing user data because it costs us nothing and is worth a lot of money’. (Please don’t sue me!)

So the question remains: why are we still living in a world whereby every time we visit a website the operators are silently – and in some cases without express consent – gathering all sorts of information on our location, previous shopping habits, age, demographic and a slew of other preferences?

To display the vast differences between ‘online’ and everything else, let’s look at two simple examples:

If you walk into Walgreens and buy a pack of gum you have the very visible choice of joining any of at least 2 or 3 savings programs, give money to starving children or just registering for future bonuses. In the physical world this is a very clear and conscious choice that most people (including myself) decline or accept based on our personal preference.

Simple, isn’t it?

However, the virtual world plays by a wholly different set of rules.

Every time you visit a website you are likely to be giving away a number of identifying factors whether you know it or not. And should you happen to actually purchase something, you are leaving yourself at the mercy of the capitalistic virtual demigods. Not only are you giving away your credit card number, address, zip-code, purchase preference, delivery preference and phone number, but very likely a massive amount of aggregate information stored in cookies from other purchases and visits that you have made. So what’s the difference?

In 1995 I would have totally understood this process. The Internet was a vast wasteland, inhabited by porn and pop-ups, and ruled by unscrupulous characters (no need for student loans, thank you very much).

Even in 2000 the Internet was mostly an unregulated territory where spammers could roam free and ‘Adwords’ was an instant success story (again, thank you). But now? What gives ‘online’ the right to work under a different set of rules and regulations then regular ‘IRL’ commerce?

Opt-out by default should be the standard.

Companies (yes – I am looking at you Google, TradeDoubler, Yahoo, etc…) collecting personal information should be on a ‘default is NO’ basis. Not only because this practice is borderline illegal in many cases but – and much more importantly – it undermines the very nature of consumer confidence. Thus, it is time to kill ‘Online’ and start treating ‘online’ the same way we do everyday grocery shopping.

Commerce is commerce.

If you buy something ‘online’ or at your local store you should, as a consumer, be able to expect the same service, rights, privacy, and responsibility as you would in any brick-and-mortar store! Anything less and the the impact will remain consistent – people still thinking of the Internet as a less secure, less private and less safe purchasing option. And THAT is not good for anyone.

So let’s do away with the excuse that ‘online’ somehow differs from ‘IRL’ and just accept that whether you are face-to-face with your local grocer or 5,000 miles away you are still just buying a gallon of milk.

SpiderOak 4.8 Client Beta Release

It’s that time again! Today we are releasing the 4.8 Beta of the SpiderOak desktop client for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Whether you’re new to SpiderOak or a current user, you can find downloads for all supported operating systems and distributions here: Beta version 4.8. The download will start automatically for your OS/distribution and install it as you would any software to upgrade your SpiderOak client.

In this version we have focused on bug-fixes and improvements instead of new features. You can find a list of those below.

If you’re looking for new functionality and features, we look forward to wow-ing you with our next release, which will be ready right around the new year.

SpiderOak 4.8 fixes and improvements:

- Fixed bug causing sync to not work correctly under Windows XP in certain situations

-Re-built the Windows installation file as MSI for greater flexibility and installation user management

- Fixed bug causing recycle bin downloads to fail

- Fixed bug causing custom download locations for file-restores not to work correctly

- Fixed bug causing un-installation to require reboot under Windows

So go ahead! Download the beta, try it out, and tell us how we did at: support@spideroak.com

SpiderOak LOVES Windows 8. Compatibility = Done

Although ‘love’ is a big word for an operating system that has just recently been placed in the hands of early adopters, we at SpiderOak are committed to continually protecting your privacy in the newest iteration of the Microsoft operating system.

We have poked, prodded and tested the SpiderOak client on the Release Preview and Consumer Release of Windows 8 over the last few months. After all this work we are happy to announce that SpiderOak has been supporting Windows 8 from day 1. So are we in ‘love’? If compatibility is one measure then we would certainly say ‘yes’.

For all of you unpacking brand new computers this holiday season or simply feel that Windows 7 is ‘too 2012′, you can all look forward to also being able to install and run the SpiderOak client and all our services under this new Operating system.

Of course Windows 8 is still new and going through changes. Should you find something odd or unsettling about how the SpiderOak client or service works and would like to let us know, please email us at: support@spideroak.com and we will address it right away.

Very best wishes & congrats to Windows 8!

The SpiderOak Team

How does SpiderOak use SpiderOak? – Part 5

Daniel Larsson, QA and Marketing.

Being a frequent traveler and the resident US living Swede here at SpiderOak (born and raised in Sweden and living in the Midwest) one of the features of SpiderOak that I really love is Sync.

While many companies offer a ‘sync folder’ that allows you to place all the documents, images, video etc. into a folder that synchronizes between computers, I think the SpiderOak approach to folder structure retaining sync is an essential feature.

After backing up my entire desktop containing all my work material, the last thing I want to do is run a USB stick around updating documents in multiple locations such as temporary offices abroad, new laptops etc… This is where the brilliance of folder structure retaining sync comes in.

Using the same account across all my devices, I can simply backup my base configuration of any laptop or remote desktop, set up sync for my document, video, image folders etc…, and click ‘start’. With SpiderOak having an up-to-date copy of the data on my office desktop – and retaining folder structure when synchronizing – all I have to do is sit back and watch my new device fill with all the data I need for work, anywhere in the world, with the same structure as I am used to at the office!

This is one of the features of SpiderOak that truly feels like magic at work!

SpiderOak IAmA on reddit.com

As a part of World Backup Day a few of us in the team behind SpiderOak will be answering questions about our service, company etc. in a AUA post on /r/IAmA on the social news site Reddit throughout the weekend.

For those unfamiliar IAmA is short for “I Am A” and AUA is short for “Ask Us Anything” and stands for a post where someone or a group of people answers questions from the community.

We at SpiderOak are doing this as a way of connecting with the community, spread awareness of World Backup Day, and our special offer of 5GB storage free for life through the bonus code ‘worldbackupday’.

We hope you will take the time to show up and say hello and maybe ask us a question or two! You can find the IAmA post right HERE

SpiderOak scaling back Refer-A-Friend program

When we at SpiderOak started our industry leading 50 GB Refer-A-Friend program back in May of 2011, we hoped that it was something that our most dedicated users would see as an opportunity to spread the word about SpiderOak as well as enjoy more usable storage in their account.

The initial response was overwhelmingly positive. While our storage costs increased, it was something we were more than willing to support for the good of the users.

However, along the road we noticed a few alarming trends that have led us to the decision to scale back our offering.

One of the first effects we noticed was a fairly large group of users blatantly misusing the program by creating a massive number of dummy accounts.

This was somewhat expected and something we could very well have dealt with, even though doing so would have made it somewhat harder for the vast majority of honest supporters to refer their legitimate friends and colleagues.

The second event occurred in late 2011 when the devastating floods in Thailand drove storage prices to new highs. This caused the cost of storage to skyrocket.

While this development was certainly unfortunate, we still kept the program open as we valued the input and support of our users higher than the increased cost.

The final event which ‘broke the straw’ reared its head just a few months ago. We began noticing ads on certain black-hat boards and markets selling ‘lifetime SpiderOak 50 GB storage’ accounts to unsuspecting buyers. That was simply unacceptable.

Instead of spending our days chasing down malicious accounts or banning users or possibly having to close down accounts purchased in good faith, we are choosing to scale the program back. At this level, we feel that users can still enjoy a valuable referral program and it is no longer profitable for scammers to sell our free service to third parties.

In closing, we would like to thank the vast majority of supportive users that have helped spread the word through our Refer-A-Friend program and hope that our user community will understand our reasoning behind the scale-back.

Effective 8 March 2012 our refer-a-friend program will re-boot, offering a max of 10 GB through referrals.

Of course, all users that have previously used our referral program without malicious intent will retain your accrued storage. We will deal directly with the others who were maliciously or inappropriately adding GBs to their account.

TLDR; Our refer-a-friend program was too generous and ended up inviting scammers, so we made the decision to scale it back.

We hope you understand. Much love, SpiderOak

H.R.1981, the end of online privacy as we know it.

The sponsors of bill H.R.1981 are not stupid people. By naming a bill ‘The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011′ they have managed to take a piece of legislation that could be the worst threat to online privacy ever and make it virtually impervious to critique. Who will stand up and vote against the safety of our children?

So what does this piece of legislation hold that could possibly threaten online privacy?

Bill H.R.1981 contains legal responsibility for any Internet Service Provider to keep detailed records of “your Internet activity for 12 months, your name, the address where you live, your bank account numbers, your credit card numbers, and any IP-addresses you’ve been assigned.”

To be honest, these are characteristics that a lot of Internet Providers most likely already know. The real difference here with the Bill is how they would easily they could then provide this information to law enforcement. It’s an intricate set of rules whereby the government agencies have to go through the process of… well… just asking for it. Yep, that’s it.

As the bill is written – any person under investigation of a crime (or possibly even civil matters such as custody battles or divorces) could look forward to having an extensive part of their life accessible without warrant or cause. As Rep. James Sensenbrenner says, (R-Wisc.): “It poses numerous risks that well outweigh any benefits, and I’m not convinced it will contribute in a significant way to protecting children.”

So what are some of the obvious risks of this new legislation? Well as many people know, losing your credit card or having your identity stolen is a horrible experience. Can you even imagine what kind of damage could be caused if someone got a hold of all this information PLUS your web habits and login and passwords? (See. Update)

Consider a scenario: Someone steals your web habits and your identity. How do you recover your identity and credit when the first thing the hacker does is cancel your credit monitoring service account and then sends your power bill, bank account, and new drivers license to your ‘new address’? All this would be possible if someone gained unlimited access to the email, personal information, credit card number, surfing habits, and login/password to web services that are used by many people daily and are the very items which would be compromised. (See. Update)

Many people today live a life where everyday services such as email, banking, document handling, photos, social media networks, and data storage are as important as the documents you carry in your wallet. With this in mind, how can we allow the government unlimited access to such an extensive part of our lives virtually without restraints?

Equally as important, how can we allow companies with anything but stellar security track records providing us unqualified services to have virtually unlimited access to all parts of our online life?

To protest H.R.1981 you can visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation and fill out a one-click petition against the bill.

UPDATE: After further investigation and as hacker news user; ‘skymt’ pointed out (thank you) bill H.R.1981 amends the current bills storage of only the assigned IP-address of the consumer, and not explicitly Internet usage records. One possibly argue that it is likely that this data is also available for the ISP. However, the does NOT state that these shall be stored or made available.