Dropbox privacy, and how to improve it

Approx Reading Time: 9 minutes

Dropbox is a popular cloud storage service that allows users to keep all of their data organized in the same place. People use Dropbox to backup all sorts of personal and professional data. While Dropbox provides plenty of convenience and quick access to your data from anywhere there have been certain user privacy-related scandals involving Dropbox. Dropbox has been accused of sharing data about academic users which has raised user privacy concerns for users who use Dropbox, especially for academic uses. While Dropbox claims that the data of the academic users was shared anonymously it still doesn’t satisfy the more privacy-conscious Dropbox users. There are a lot of privacy-related questions in the minds of Dropbox users and here are some commonly asked privacy related questions and their answers:

How does Dropbox deal with user privacy?

Dropbox handles user privacy with the help of industry-standard data privacy measures including encrypting user data, providing two-factor authentication option to users, putting up firewalls to protect stored user data, and providing strict guidelines for the development of third-party apps.

How can you improve your privacy if you use Dropbox?

You can improve your Dropbox account privacy by turning on two-factor authentication, managing and remove linked third-party apps, and removing inactive devices from your Dropbox account.

How can you get information removed from Dropbox?

You can delete your Dropbox account to remove all of your Dropbox data.

How can you find out what information Dropbox has about you?

You can view all of your Dropbox data online and you can also download your data anytime you want.

Does Dropbox tell you who they share your information with?

Yes, Dropbox mentions in their privacy policy that they share user data with third-party partners and service providers including marketing partners, customer support, storage service providers, and other similar third parties and legal entities.

Does Dropbox remove user information from third parties?

No Dropbox can’t remove your data from third parties it shares user data with.

Dropbox privacy, and how to improve it 1
(CC BY 2.0) by IN 30 MINUTES Guides

Cloud storage is gaining popularity and Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage service providers in the world. And since it handles and stores data of millions of users it is responsible for the safety and privacy of the stored data. As a Dropbox user, it is necessary to understand how Dropbox privacy works and what controls you have over your data. And in this article, we will tell you everything you need to know to improve your Dropbox privacy.

How does Dropbox deal with user privacy?

Dropbox is used for business and personal storage and to maintain the trust of its users Dropbox employs some of the most sophisticated data security measures in the Tech industry. After all, Dropbox has a reputation to repair especially after the recent academic data-sharing scandal. Dropbox claims to put up following data security measures to deal with user privacy: 

● Encrypting user data:

Data breaches are a real threat and as cybercriminals get more advanced in their cyber attacks there is a real risk of a data breach happening. And for a company like Dropbox, a data breach can prove detrimental. Which is why Dropbox stores user data in encrypted form by converting readable user data into unreadable form. So in case of a data breach user data will remain inaccessible to the hackers’ thanks to the encryption techniques. Encrypted data can only be decrypted using a special key through the Dropbox account which makes user data accessible only to the owner of the data.  

● Providing two-factor authentication options to users:

Two-factor authentication is an industry-standard user data security measure that Dropbox provides to its users to make their accounts safer. The two-factor authentication feature gives users a unique code every time they want to log in to their account and with this feature your account can not be accessed without the combination of authentication code and the account password. This feature provides protection to your account in case someone manages to crack your password they will still need the unique code to access your account which can only be sent to your authorized device.

● Putting up firewalls to protect stored user data:

Dropbox keeps user data under physical and firewall scrutiny to prevent any data breaches and the data storage and security infrastructure of Dropbox is constantly upgraded and improved to prevent any future threats to user data.

Dropbox privacy, and how to improve it 3
(CC BY 2.0) by Johan Larsson

● Providing strict guidelines for the development of third-party apps:

There are plenty of third-party apps that allow you to view, edit, or access your files that are stored in Dropbox. And these third-party apps can have access to your account data. Therefore Dropbox has provided a set of standards that authorized third-party apps must meet to be used with Dropbox. On top of that Dropbox uses the OAuth protocol to allow third-party apps to use certain account information about the user without revealing all the account data to the third-party app. 

How can you improve your privacy if you use Dropbox?

Dropbox can only keep your stored data secured and keeping your account secure from unauthorized access is totally up to you. Luckily Dropbox has built-in features in your account to improve your level of privacy. You can increase the level of privacy for your Dropbox account by:

● Turning on two-factor authentication:

As explained in the previous section two factor authentication is a feature to prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your user data. You can turn this feature on by going to dropbox.com and logging in using your Dropbox account details using a desktop. Next click on your Dropbox profile avatar icon and from the menu choose settings. You will find the “Security” option within settings and in the security section, you have the Two-step verification option. Simply turn this feature on and click on “Get Started” to start setting up two-factor authentication for your Dropbox account. You will be asked to provide your account password and after entering your password you can either pick text message or a third-party app to receive authentication codes on when signing in. To receive authentication code via SMS simply provide the mobile number you want to receive the codes on click “Next” and after you receive the authentication code enter it in the assigned field to finish the process. While for authentication mobile app you will have to either scan a bar code or enter the key visible within the Dropbox two factor authentication setup utility into your authentication app and click next. Your authenticator app will generate a unique code after scanning the barcode or entering the key which needs to be entered into the required field inside dropbox.com to finish setting up two-factor authentication for your account.

● Manage and remove linked third-party apps:

As mentioned earlier third-party apps can access your account data once you attach them with your Dropbox account. This makes it important to check and make sure that the apps you have attached with your Dropbox account are legit and don’t seem shady. You can review and remove unwanted third-party apps from accessing your Dropbox account by signing in to dropbox.com using your account details and clicking on your account avatar icon. Next, go to settings and click on the “Connected apps” option to find the list of third-party apps that have access to your Dropbox account. If you notice an unwanted or unknown app in this list simply click on the arrow next to the app and click disconnect to remove access to that third party app.  

● Removing inactive devices from your Dropbox account:

You can unlink or remove any old or devices from your Dropbox account that you don’t use to prevent unauthorized access to your Dropbox account. If you end up losing or selling a device that has been linked to your Dropbox account it can pose a risk to your data as the linked device can be used to access your account. If you want to remove or unlink a device from your Dropbox account simply signing into the official dropbox website using your account details and clicking on your account avatar. After that go to the settings option and pick the “Security” option from the security menu. You will find the “Devices” section in the security settings and in this section, you can find all the devices that are linked to your Dropbox account. And you can click on the (x) next to the device you want to remove to unlink it to your Dropbox account.

How can you get information removed from Dropbox?

Deleting your Dropbox account is the best way to get rid of all your personal information from Dropbox servers. You can delete your Dropbox account by logging into dropbox.com and clicking on your Dropbox profile avatar. Then select Settings and go into the general settings. Here you will find the option to delete your Dropbox account and all its data permanently.

How can you find out what information Dropbox has about you?

You can download your Dropbox data by signing into dropbox.com and finding the folder you want to download. Next, all you have to do is click on the three dots near the folder’s name and click on download to download the selected folder onto your computer.

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Does Dropbox tell you who they share your information with?

Dropbox claims that

● Third-party partners and service providers:

Dropbox utilizes the services of third party companies that help Dropbox in carrying out various functions of the organization. For example, Dropbox utilizes Amazon web services for storage purposes, and similarly, it partners with Google as an advertisement partner and so on. And all of the third-party partners of Dropbox and service providers have access to user data for the purpose of providing their respective service to Dropbox and its users. Similarly, the third-party apps that users attach with Dropbox can also access user data to a certain extent.

● Law enforcement:

Dropbox also shares user data with law enforcement in case it is required by law or to investigate a property or financial loss, terms of use violation, etc.

Does Dropbox remove user information from third parties?

Dropbox does not control any of the third parties it shares user data with and since every third party has its own set of privacy policies Dropbox can’t access or delete the user data that they hold about Dropbox users. So if you want to get your information removed that Dropbox has shared with third parties then you will have to contact the third parties directly.