Conversations about life & privacy in the digital age

Download The Newest Version of SpiderOak

Today we are proud to release our newest version – SpiderOak 5.0.


The most significant addition is SpiderOak Hive – a simple drag and drop folder that allows you to sync files across all your devices. For more information on Hive, feel free to visit


You can read about several other new features, enhancements and bug fixes at SpiderOak Launches 5.0 Beta.

Please reach out with any thoughts or questions. We look forward to continuing development and making SpiderOak the best it can be.

The Fine Print of Privacy

Ever wonder what happens to your data when you accept a “terms of service” agreement? Or, do you always comb through the fine print?

This second explainer, recently promoted by Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing, breaks down the details of a privacy policy and answers the following questions:

  1. What’s the point of a privacy policy?
  2. Are companies required to have one?
  3. How do privacy policies vary between companies?
  4. And how might they change in the future?
Want to help spread the message of privacy? Share this explainer and get people talking about The Fine Print of Privacy.

Fighting for the Right to Know

In February a bill was introduced in the State of California by Assembly Member Lowenthal called AB 1291 or the ‘Right To Know’ Act.

The central theme of the ‘Right to Know’ Act is transparency – creating a way for the user of a service to request and thus understand all the information a company has about them in terms of what was given, what was shared, as well as what may have been inferred. And despite various company spokesmen speaking up in favor of AB 1291 (e.g. increased transparency), behind closed doors many of these same companies are working to defeat the bill via industry groups and coalitions.

It is tough to argue against transparency. And it has always been our belief that a more transparent ecosystem would give way to a better educated consumer which ultimately means a better business environment. After all, we would hate to think that somehow companies were taking advantage of us in any way and the ‘Right to Know’ Act is a way through this potential fear.

For these reasons and more, we felt compelled to come out in favor of AB 1291. Below is the letter we sent to Assemblymember Lowenthal in show of our support:


March 21, 2013


The Honorable Bonnie Lowenthal

State Capitol, Room 3152

Sacramento, CA 95814


Re:  Support for AB 1291 (Lowenthal), The Right to Know Act

Dear Assemblymember Lowenthal:

On behalf of SpiderOak, Inc, we are writing to express our support for AB 1291, the Right to Know Act.

The Right to Know Act would modernize California’s Shine the Light Act (Civ. Code 1798.83), which was intended to provide Californians with the right to know when businesses are sharing their personal information. In the years since the passage of the Shine the Light Act, its definitions and mechanisms have been outpaced by rapid changes in technology, data collection, and business practices. The Right to Know Act would update this important measure.

We stand in support of the Right to Know Act for two reasons. First, SpiderOak strongly supports the principle that individuals deserve the right to know how their personal information has been collected and shared. Protecting user privacy needs to be an essential part of how we as a society address the growth of online activity. Therefore, we support efforts to provide individuals with consistent transparency across all of the companies who handle personal information.

Second, SpiderOak believes that transparency and greater understanding will help all businesses in the modern data ecosystem thrive – including SpiderOak. Businesses that handle personal information rely on user trust – that the business is handling information with the utmost care and concern. As the ‘cloud’ medium grows, information collection and gathering has increased exponentially. By increasing transparency, we believe that the Right to Know Act will promote good data stewardship across the board and thus increase overall trust in and usage of data-driven services, promoting innovation and business growth.

California residents and companies both deserve an online world where users can truly understand how their personal information is collected and shared. Transparency is a necessary step in building that world. For that reason, we are proud to join you in supporting the Right to Know Act.


Ethan Oberman

SpiderOak, Inc


We are curious to hear your thoughts on the ‘Right to Know’ Act and where you stand. Feel free to leave your comments here and looking forward to the dialogue!

SpiderOak Launches 5.0 Beta

Today we are proud to release the SpiderOak 5.0 Beta. It comes as the result of a lot of hard work and planning and we are excited to get it into the hands of our users. The most significant addition is SpiderOak Hive which makes syncing data between your various devices simple and easy. You can find a detailed list below of what will be included from new features to feature enhancements to bug fixes as well as some FAQs about SpiderOak Hive. Please click here to download the 5.0 Beta. (Click here for the 64-bit Windows build)


  • SpiderOak Hive: We adopted a simple approach to syncing data across all devices by creating the SpiderOak Hive folder. Simply drag and drop files or folders into this folder and they will automatically sync to your other devices.
  • OS Integration for Windows (Mac and Linux soon to follow): Granting right-click access functions via Explorer now allows you to backup, share, and view historical versions.


  • ShareRoom Enhancement: Users can now add passwords to their ShareRooms which adds an additional layer of security when sharing important files.
  • Remote Diagnostics: We added a capability for remote diagnostics to help when troubleshooting problems with customer support.  This option is disabled by default. You must explicitly enabled it.  Diagnostic reports consist of metadata such as program and OS version information, file system types, program log files, folder and file names. Reports do not include backup data, passwords, or encryption information.
  • Password Enhancement: As a new user, you must now change your password upon setting up your first device when JavaScript was disabled during signup and a temporary password was automatically generated.
  • ShareRoom Enhancement: We added clarification to the ShareRoom creation wizard


  • LAN sync: Fixed a bug with LAN sync, allowing the client to recover from certain error conditions
  • UI / View Tab: Fixed a bug that sometimes caused the UI to erroneously disable the View tab in the client after displaying the “out of space” popup window.
  • AppIndicator framework: Switch system tray icon to use AppIndicator framework on Ubuntu.
  • Backup: Fixed a bug which prevents category size indicator on basic backup tab from updating without restarting the client
  • Downloads: Fixed a bug that prevented downloads from resuming after a network failure.
  • Uninstalling SpiderOak: Fixed a bug on Windows which reports publisher info as ‘unknown’ when uninstalling SpiderOak.
  • Sync: Fixed a bug that sometimes prevented sync from detecting a moved folder properly, instead considering it a deletion
  • Backup: Fixed a bug causing backup to fail under a very rare edge case


Here are five questions and answers we anticipate users having.

1.  What is SpiderOak Hive? How does it work?

SpiderOak Hive creates a simple way to sync data between your various devices. All you have to do is place files and/or folders inside your SpiderOak Hive and the data will automatically appear on any other device running SpiderOak. Easy.

2.  Where do I find the SpiderOak Hive folder?

A shortcut to SpiderOak Hive will appear automatically on your desktop. Depending on the operating system, SpiderOak Hive will also appear in the file system browser as follows: Windows Explorer –> Documents folder;  Mac Finder –> “/Users/<username>/SpiderOak Hive/”; Linux –> Home folder.

3.  Can I still backup my files from their original locations using the SpiderOak application?  Do I have to use SpiderOak Hive?

SpiderOak Hive was designed to run on top of the existing SpiderOak application; as such, you can still select specific files and/or folders for backup using the ‘Backup’ tab inside the application. We view this ability to create a unique and structured backup set as a core function of SpiderOak and have no plans to get rid of this functionality.

4.  How do I get SpiderOak Hive?

Currently – SpiderOak Hive is in Beta and available by clicking on the following link: (or 64-bit Windows) As soon as you install the new version, SpiderOak Hive will appear automatically on your desktop.

5.  If I would prefer to use SpiderOak Hive as opposed to selecting data to back up and sync inside the SpiderOak application, how do I make this transition?

This is simple!  All you have to do is drag and drop all the items in your current backup set over to the SpiderOak Hive folder. This action will cause SpiderOak to effectively move this data over to Hive which will take a few moments to process. Upon completion, you will be done and fully ready to use your SpiderOak Hive folder. Please remember that future files must be saved into your SpiderOak Hive folder to ensure they are being backed up and synced.

Update: The beta download links may have delivered a 32-bit build to Windows users with 64-bit computers, rendering the OS Integration feature inoperative. If you have a 64-bit version of Windows, please re-download using the updated links, or by clicking here: 64-bit Windows build. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Why Privacy Matters

Why does privacy matter?

To begin breaking down the subject of privacy, we created an explainer, recently published in IT Briefcase, to answer the following questions:

  • What is the difference between privacy and security?
  • Should you care about privacy if you have nothing to hide?
  • What does privacy mean in the digital age?

Want to help spread the message of privacy? Share this explainer and get people thinking about Why Privacy Matters.

NEW FEATURE: What would you call it?

Saying this is an exciting time at SpiderOak is an understatement. There are so many wonderful things happening. One of which is a major release, Version 5.0, coming in the next few weeks. This release will include many fixes as well as a couple additional features. Stay tuned for posts about these fixes and features.

As for now, I’ll let you in on one of these new features in exchange for some of your creative juices. Deal?

We are keeping our highly customizable sync features for advanced users, while simultaneously adopting the ‘industry standard’ central sync/backup folder spearheaded by Dropbox. This new folder makes it easier for new users to get started without having to select items to backup or sync. Items placed into this folder will be uploaded to SpiderOak and then pushed out to any other place this folder exists. Additionally, this folder will be available via the newly designed mobile app.

Here’s an example. Upon downloading the new SpiderOak application on your Mac, you will find this new folder in the Finder window under ‘Favorites’. You can then drag and drop documents, pictures or whatever you desire, into that folder. These items will start to upload immediately.

On your Windows machine, you will notice the new folder located in the Documents folder in Explorer, and easy reachable through favorites and a desktop shortcut. When opening up this new folder, you will see all the items you placed into this folder on any of your other devices. As you then place items from your Windows machine into this folder, they will in turn be available in the folder on across your network.

This new functionality will also be available in Linux as well as accessible through our newly redesigned and soon to be released mobile applications.

Now that we’ve let you in on this exciting news, I’m curious to know what you might call such a feature? The SpiderOak Folder? The Oak Chest? Your Super Simple Folder? Here is your chance to try your hand at branding. Share with us your creativity and who knows, you may be responsible for coining the name of this additional feature…

Dump the Marketing Don’t

On Monday morning this week, we started receiving emails from our PR team at South By South West (SXSW) with the following photo.

Curious if we knew anything about it, we could only respond to them with raised eyebrows and a shrug of ‘No idea!’ As we wondered who was behind this campaign, there was a certain sense of satisfaction and relief that it had nothing to do with us.

While in the world of politics negative advertising campaigns are shown to be effective when used sparingly, we at SpiderOak have not seen the value in positioning our competitors’ offerings as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’.

As our market gets more and more crowded, we aim to educate people about the differences in our services and how it may be more appealing and beneficial to a certain segment. Our marketing efforts revolve around trying to best communicate what we do so those who need us can best find us. Seems like a better approach than telling everyone how bad the other is.

What do you think? Do our marketing efforts resonate with you? Have you ever chosen a service or product due to negative messaging? Have you seen a campaign – like the one referred to in this post – work? Curious to know your thoughts.

A Great Evening Focused on Privacy

We’re just starting to see the dust settle after hosting the first annual Penetralia Event and wanted to thank all the attendees for their attendance as well as the folks over at Silent Circle for co-hosting and making the evening so special. It is our hope that you had as much fun as we did and left feeling more understanding and passionate about privacy.

The event was intended to coincide with the first day of the RSA Conference in order to help further draw the important distinction between security on the one hand and privacy on the other. A physical way to explain this technical difference would be to think of your house or apartment:

Security relates to the lock on your door and/or your alarm system — the measures you put in place to keep out unwanted visitors or intruders.

Privacy represents the blinds on your windows. Most of us don’t like the idea of a passersby peering inside at all hours even if we aren’t doing anything of particular note. This is why we we draw the blinds.

Hence – it is through the existence of both security and privacy that we can fully enjoy peace of mind. And of course the same should exist in our digital / online lives as well.

To illustrate this point, we created ‘Secure’ and ‘Private’ boxes which were on display and available for attendees to experience. We invited people to step inside each box, feel the difference and ponder how the experience translated to putting their data in the cloud.

On Monday we also announced the launch of our newest product, Crypton. Penetralia attendees had the opportunity to see and discuss directly with the developers responsible for building this world’s first ‘Zero-Knowledge’ application framework. The level of interest was overwhelming and thus incredibly encouraging. We look forward to working with the community at large and supporting their efforts around various Crypton implementations.

For those who couldn’t attend, don’t you worry. Several privacy-focused companies asked how they could help sponsor our event next year. Penetralia 2014 is already in the works!


Announcing Penetralia: Launch of First-Ever Open Source ‘Zero-Knowledge’ Application Framework

The RSA Conference in San Francisco takes place next week and we will be sponsoring the first annual Penetralia Event with our friends over at Silent Circle, the global encrypted communications service provider.

What is Penetralia? The definition reads:

1. The innermost part of a building, especially the sanctuary of a temple.

2. The most private or secret parts; the recesses; the penetralia of the soul.

Taking place on Monday, the 25th, from 7pm-10pm, the goal of Penetralia is to gather folks from across industries to further the privacy-in-technology conversation. “The underlying premise behind the cloud is that all data is stored or available in plaintext. From an end user perspective, this means everything you upload – from financial documents to family photos to vital company information – exists in a readable format by someone other than you. The ‘Zero-Knowledge’ concept propels the dialogue forward by enabling something previously not possible – maintaining privacy in a cloud environment,” said CEO and Co-Founder Ethan Oberman.

Penetralia is an invite-only event. If you would like to attend, please visit

Also, this Monday at RSA we will formally announce a first-ever open source ‘Zero-Knowledge’ application framework. This framework will empower both companies and developers alike to take full advantage of ‘Zero-Knowledge’ cryptography and encryption standards through a lightweight utility that runs via the browser.

We believe this framework will deepen the divide between companies that need access to your data as part of their business model, such as Google or Facebook, as opposed to those who don’t, like Evernote or 37signals. With this advancement we ask, “Why would companies choose to store data in plaintext when there is no financial benefit in doing so?”

Santa’s Naughty or Nice Tech Companies 2012

On this day of December 25th, we hope those of you who received the magic of Santa are busy admiring and playing with your new gifts. Congrats for being such a good boy or girl. If you awoke to coal in your stockings, well, better luck next year! You probably didn’t need to accumulate more ‘stuff’ anyway.

As mentioned, Santa granted us permission to publish his list of the 5 naughty and 5 nice tech companies of the year. As it turns out, Santa shares our love of privacy which is why he and his elves only use SpiderOak. Wanting only the best for you, he kept his eye on those companies who seemingly cared about your data and those who didn’t. We asked you to submit who you thought made the lists and ho ho ho did you reply! Nearly 800 votes were cast. Thanks to all of you who participated in our little guessing game.

Here is who you thought made the naughty list:

A total of 61 companies were cited. Dropbox, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Skype, Amazon, Verizon, Canonical, Oracle, and AT&T were also mentioned numerous times.

Here are the companies you believed were on the nice list:

A total of 102 companies were mentioned including: Samsung, Apple, Amazon, Mozilla,, Evernote, Facebook, Silent Circle, Valve.

As you might imagine, Santa and his elves had a difficult time whittling down the list but in the end a list must be created. And with no further ado, the official results…

Santa’s Naughty Tech Companies of 2012

5. Verizon

Selling customer information such as geographical information, app usage and online activities lands Verizon on this list. Though customers can opt out of this type of monitoring, Santa believes Verizon should give its customers the choice to opt in.

4. Apple

From Siri to childrens apps, this tech company was far from being the apple of Santa’s eye this year.

3. Instagram

The end-of-the-year TOS revision in order to sell off user photos without compensation (and then immediately rethinking its decision) made Instagram a naughty naughty winner and recipient of a class action lawsuit.

2. Google

Ever on the hot seat for improper data collection and sharing, possible misuse of search results, page rank manipulation, and more, Google does not share the same passion for privacy as Santa.

1. Facebook

Where does Santa begin? Facebook’s latest decision to sell access to your inbox? Bottom line, you and your data generate a lot of revenue for the social network. Santa wants and needs to keep his information private so don’t ever expect to be ‘friends’ with him.

Santa’s Nice Tech Companies of 2012

5. SpiderOak

What did Santa want for Christmas? Zero-Knowledge! (Plus – many of you had mentioned us and we greatly enjoy giving away free GBs.)

4. Silent Circle

Santa recommends this new service for voice, video and text-message communication. Brought to you by the developer of Pretty Good Privacy”. SpiderOak is a big fan too!

3. Mozilla

A big supporter of Do Not Track, Santa was proud of the leadership role Mozilla took on user privacy.

2. Twitter

Although they teetered on that naughty / nice line, Santa ultimately decided ‘nice’ after following Mozilla’s lead for enabling Do Not Track.

1. DuckDuckGo

If Santa’s searches were able to be tracked then what surprises would await all those little boys and girls Christmas morning? As such, he needed to find an alternative to Google. DuckDuckGo doesn’t use cookies, doesn’t save personally identifiable information (not even your IP address), and doesn’t use targeted ads – making this company Santa’s personal favorite.

If you matched any of the companies on Santa’s Naughty or Nice list, you will receive 2 free GBs of storage. If you matched all 10, you’ll receive 30 free GBs. Expect the additional storage to hit your accounts very soon.

Again, thanks for joining our holiday fun and from all of us as SpiderOak,

Merry Christmas!