SpiderOak today launched Hive, an app allows users to easily sync their files across devices while the files remain encrypted on SpiderOak’s servers.
The app comes as part of SpiderOak‘s application version 5.0. It is available for desktop and iOS, with an Android app expected later this month.
Files are encrypted on the client side. Effectively, that means SpiderOak cannot read file names or contents even if the user loses his or her password or law enforcement agencies demand access.
“The first thing we wanted to ensure was privacy, then we can do backup, sync and sharing. Under no circumstances can the server actually see plain text data. In our world, that’s the only way we can ensure privacy,” said CEO Ethan Oberman.
Encryption on the server is a benefit of SpiderOak’s products, but it poses an additional challenge in developing sharing and collaboration software.
SpiderOak’s namesake app could already perform all of the functions Hive does, but it came with a more involved user interface that required users to indicate which files to back up. Hive employs a drag-and-drop interface.
“We’ve leveraged what other companies have done around usability, and applied it to spider oak applications,” Oberman said.
Yet SpiderOak hasn’t yet been able to offer file-sharing that leaves its servers blind as to file name and content. When Hive user share files, they de-encrypt the same files on SpiderOak’s servers.
Privacy-minded storage and sharing appears to be benefiting from technological advances. Last week, BitTorrent launched a peer-to-peer synching app in which synched files are not stored on the company’s servers. Just a week later, users have already shared a petabyte of data, according to BitTorrent.
SpiderOak hopes to deliver still more privacy-conscious versions on cloud sharing functions. According to Oberman, the company will soon offer a file-sharing service in which files remain encrypted on its servers.
SpiderOak users can sync or share up to 2 gigabytes of data before entering SpiderOak’s paid premium tier, putting it on a par with Dropbox. New users this week will benefit from a promotional 5-gigabyte storage cap.