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Some People Don’t Get It

June 21, 2008

Mozy uses 448-bit blowfish encryption & a private keyI just read a blog post about a user’s experience with Mozy. He had great user experience. No problems installing it, configuring it, etc. Then he read the terms-of-service (TOS) and got scared.

C’mon people, do you actually think a company would just hand over your data to anyone with a badge that walks in the door? I don’t care what company it is. I don’t care what country its in. NO company would want the P.R. nightmare that would accompany giving up their customers’ data.

Of course Mozy’s TOS says that they will comply with a court order to hand over your data if subpoenaed. That’s the law. But here’s the thing… if you’re concerned about it… use the dang private key. Mozy offers it for a reason: IT REMOVES THE COMPANY’S ABILITY TO DECRYPT YOUR DATA.

So supposing a federal official did come along and ask for your data; and suppose he did have a valid warrant; and suppose Mozy’s lawyers were unable to contest the subpoena and had to had over your data… guess what that federal official would get… that’s right… a bunch of ones and zeros. It would be completely meaningless information and impossible to decrypt.

So go ahead and try Mozy. And if you’re still not satisfied… wait until the data center is open in Europe. 🙂

(Disclosure: Yes, I work for Mozy. No, this isn’t an official company blog.)

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15 Comments
  1. Ryan permalink

    Recently, I tried to clarify a couple of concerns that a gentleman named Søren and his friend had about Mozy’s backup system. And to be honest, they make some valid points. They certainly had some great suggestions. They don’t have comments enabled on their blogs though so I’ll have to do the best I can here.

    Søren, good point about the wording of that third clause. I’m assuming the lawyers required it just in case something ever happens where the world is in danger and some data on the company’s servers can prevent a major catastrophe (but that’s just me talking). But I would expect that the company would only retrieve information if it were ABSOLUTELY necessary. Accessing a user’s information without permission could harm the company’s reputation, and that would be quite a high price to pay. That fact, in-and-of itself would seem to be a pretty high motivation to keep everything secure. And for those individuals that are still hesitant, I repeat, use the private key.

    I appreciate your suggestions though. Your newest post is even more helpful. I invite you to add other suggestions in the comments and I’ll pass along what I can. We’re always looking for ways to improve the product.

    (And no Søren, I’m not in charge of PR or security, I’m just an employee that wants to clear up a little confusion.)

  2. I do have comments enabled on my blogs – Søren hasn’t on his 😉 I merely reflected Søren’s views and added my own on my blog, since I felt it was an area that would be of some interests to my readers as well.

    I’m glad that you’ve chosen to comment a bit on the 3rd section of the clause, the one that really troubles me. While I’m sure that your intentions are most likely very good, the intention of a privacy policy as a binding document is to make sure that they are – and the one offered by Mozy simple doesn’t deliver. The two other examples Søren mention deliver much stronger language, and thus better protection, should the matter come before a court or law.

    It is my hope that Mozy will take this discussion as a starting point to reviewing this clause of their privacy policy.

  3. The issue here is the balance between what data your provider must hand over and how useful that data is to those gaining access. If your encryption is configured correctly your providers requirement (and even any possible desire) to hand over your data would be negated by you being the only encryption key holder.

    http://backupanytime.com/blog/?p=138

  4. Gert Poulsen permalink

    I think online backup tool are the way to go and that mozy is one of the best tools out there. I suggest you read why on the articles found here: http://www.internet-backup-service.com

  5. T.J. Crowder permalink

    Ryan,

    More than a half a year later, and at least one update of the privacy policy later (as it’ s currently dated Nov 17th, 2008), that third paragraph is still there.

    That stops me in my tracks. A good friend of mine highly recommend Mozy as being really incredibly easy to use, unobtrusive, having a great stance on how much you can back up (he warned Mozy he had a *lot*, and the response was just “Bring it on”), etc. I was jazzed.

    But sorry, no, you are not the arbiters of public safety. That’s the whole point of court orders. If someone is in imminent danger, the relevant court can have a subpoena in your hands in no time. And as for protecting your policies, well, that’s not a good enough reason to hand over my data to third parties. It’s not even a close call.

    If Mozy ever want to revise that policy to be more like Carbonite’s, I’m in. Meanwhile, I guess I have to go deal with their stuff.

    T.J. Crowder
    tj / crowder software / com

  6. Hi,

    NICE ARTICLE

  7. Hi,

    Good work

  8. JohnP permalink

    The use of a “private key” doesn’t mean that Mozy doesn’t also sign with a “master key.”

    Corporations have been adding their master keys to PKI used by their employees for awhile now. This is a corporate best practice to ensure corporate data is available after employees leave or for other emergency purposes.

    Since Mozy is in the EMC family, with RSA, I’m positive the RSA guys were helpful on this particular part of the deployment.

    Lacking a clear public statement to the contrary, anyone concerned about complete privacy of data recovery without their expressed consent should carefully consider this and alternate providers.

  9. T.J. Crowder permalink

    I’m very happy to see that the Mozy privacy policy (http://mozy.com/privacy) has been amended (months ago, back in May) to do away with the “public safety” and policy enforcement exemptions. Good on Decho for that. The wording is now “Decho does not disclose Personal Data, including the data you back up with the Service, unless disclosure is necessary to comply with an enforceable government request such as a warrant.” That’s a fairly firm commitment.

    Unfortunately, the policy falls down a bit at the end where it says they can change it with no notice of any kind (most policies of this sort have a 30-day notice period, so that if you don’t like the policy, you can remove your data before it comes into effect).

    It would be good to see a notice period added to that. But in any case it’s very good to see such a big improvement to the policy, and kudos to Decho for responding to the criticisms.

  10. Why would we use a “master key”? We don’t want to have access to your data. If we are subpoenaed, we want to be able to say, “Here are their 1’s and 0’s, but we don’t have the key, so we can’t decipher it. Sorry.”

    Also, this process was in place long before we were acquired by EMC or had any relation with RSA.

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. fork() » Blog Archive » Mozy, update
  2. Mozy: Privacy an illusion? -- Bloggings of randomness
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