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NSA-Free Cloud Storage Promised by Finnish Company

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 20 comments
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Finnish information-security company F-Secure plans to offer a cloud-storage service that can't easily be accessed by the U.S. National Security Agency.

It joins the ranks of foreign companies seeking to provide alternatives to U.S.-based online services that might be compromised by the NSA.

MORE: Should You Trust US Companies With Your Data?

"We believe in people’s right to privacy," says the website for F-Secure's planned cloud service, Younited, which went up this morning (Sept. 30). "No spying. No backdoors." (A backdoor is a hidden entry point into an otherwise secure system.)

"We wanted to provide you with a place where privacy is guaranteed and your stuff remains yours," the Younited website adds on its "About" page. "We say NO to the prying eyes of governments and we don't sell your information to advertisers."

The Younited service is not available yet, although prospective users can sign up to be notified further. Pricing and storage capacities were not announced.

Nor was it clear whether Younited would encrypt user data, or would be subject to Finnish police or governmental requests for information. An email sent to Younited and F-Secure press contacts seeking clarification was not immediately returned.

Like the existing cloud-storage services Dropbox, SkyDrive and Box, Younited promises to be accessible from Windows PCs, Macs and iOS and Android mobile devices. But it also plans to somehow access or aggregate data that users have stored on rival services.

"We welcome other clouds," says the Younited website. "Already using Facebook, Picasa or Dropbox? Get them all younited and have everything in one safe place."

Younited also promises to have a cross-platform, cross-service search engine to let users search all their uploaded data, as well as a logging backup system with restore points in case data is lost or corrupted.

(Details regarding how each of these features would work were not available. We will update this story once we receive a response from Younited.)

Other overseas companies are already marketing themselves as more trustworthy than American online service providers. In August, three large German webmail providers joined forces to create "E-Mail Made in Germany," a public initiative to store all their user data on servers physically located in Germany, and to encrypt all emails during transmission.

German information-security experts dismissed "E-Mail Made in Germany" as a gimmick, since email messages would still be archived in unencrypted form and would be subject to German governmental requests for access.

MORE: How to Secure Your Cloud Storage

In a story published Friday (Sept. 27), The Wall Street Journal reported that Brazil may soon require that online services with Brazilian users store those users' data on Brazilian servers, and that India may soon forbid government officials from using Gmail and Yahoo Mail.

Unlike Germany, neither Brazil nor India has a strong tradition of data privacy.

In July, after years of resisting, BlackBerry agreed to let the Indian government monitor BlackBerry customers' email messages and BlackBerry Messenger accounts. The Journal notes that Brazil doesn't protect online privacy, and that in the first half of 2013, the Brazilian government made 715 requests to Facebook for user data.

Even if the Finnish government promises to keep its hands off Younited, that doesn't mean that the NSA or other agencies couldn't find another way to address user data, such as by guessing a user password or tapping transmissions to Younited servers.

Yet the fact that non-U.S. companies are trying to capitalize on the trust U.S. companies have lost should be alarming.

"Moving your cloud storage to Finland is not going to prevent surveillance," tweeted Johns Hopkins University cryptography researcher Matthew Green this morning. "But it might get lawmakers' attention."

Follow Paul Wagenseil at @snd_wagenseil. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • 3 Hide
    velocityg4 , September 30, 2013 11:43 AM
    Yea like the NSA doesn't just hack in to get what they want or plant moles within the company.
  • 0 Hide
    hannibal , September 30, 2013 11:57 AM
    This has been discussed in Finnish media for a while. The idea is to provide "Switherland bank" for data. Interesting consept, and so far Finland covenrment don't have automatic acces to the material, but as it has been said, the transfers to Finland can be monitored. In anyway it is important that internet privacy is discussed. It would be guite interesting to see the international criminal organizations to take cover in Finland :-) So the situation is not so easy as it would seems to be, but there has to be some rules of how the situation is handled in the future.
  • 0 Hide
    slomo4sho , September 30, 2013 12:03 PM
    As if the data couldn't be collected at the ISP since there really isn't any indication that encryption is used to transport the data from the CPU to this cloud platform...
  • Display all 20 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    milktea , September 30, 2013 1:58 PM
    slomo4sho > why didn't you think encryption is used in the transport? F-Secure is a software security company for many years, and they're dealing with prying eyes from NSA, wouldn't you think encryption is implicit?

    They've stress the point of "No backdoors."
  • -1 Hide
    fadebloom , September 30, 2013 2:41 PM
    And why should we trust these guys? It could just as well be a front for the NSA.

    This, ladies and gentlemen, is the overarching problem that these NSA leaks have caused. An internet service like this is based on trust but trust is in short supply now... I can't inspect their servers or employess and, even if I could, how would I know what to look for? It's a sad time for the intertubes... :( 
  • 2 Hide
    amdfreak , September 30, 2013 2:42 PM
    Yes. Bravo Finns. Will definately use your service. Good Luck !
  • 4 Hide
    amdfreak , September 30, 2013 2:43 PM
    NSA has probably made a major damage to US cloud companies.
  • 1 Hide
    Darkmatterx , September 30, 2013 3:00 PM
    Thats exactly the problem. All of these US compnies have been promising for years that they weren't handing over massive ammounts of data to the government, and now we know that that was a lie.
    If a company is ordered by their government/courts to lie to the public, we now know that that they will. All these US companies must be freaking out over the damage that this leak has caused to them. This is going to dog the US for years.
  • 1 Hide
    bustapr , September 30, 2013 4:10 PM
    @amdfreak, considering they destroyed Lavabit just because one person was using their service, Id say they are ruining innocent lives as well in the process.
  • 0 Hide
    slomo4sho , September 30, 2013 4:48 PM

    Maybe because the article specifically said there was no indication of whether encryption is going to be used or not?

    Nor was it clear whether Younited would encrypt user data, or would be subject to Finnish police or governmental requests for information.
  • 0 Hide
    eodeo , September 30, 2013 7:00 PM
    NSA has probably made a major damage to US cloud companies

    I haven't even thought about that. NSA evil knows no bounds. They would rather destroy their own companies that act decent and civilized. Evil illegal spying 4tw.
  • 0 Hide
    cats_Paw , October 1, 2013 12:50 AM
    NSA is like a bully at school. They will keep doing that till someone bigger comes and screws them up.
    Might take some time, but sooner or later it will happen.
  • 0 Hide
    razor512 , October 1, 2013 1:53 AM
    If the NSA is so hungry for data, then why not start their own backup and cloud storage service, and make it free.

    I could use a cheap way to backup around 4 TB of data (especially the nearly 2 TB of the camera raw files)
  • 0 Hide
    das_stig , October 1, 2013 3:07 AM
    Even if the Finnish government promises to keep its hands off Younited, that doesn't mean that the NSA or other agencies couldn't find another way to address user data .. which basically translates in to hacking the crap out their servers, which if Joe public did it, when end up a guest of federal prison, or a mud hut in a very hot desert, with black hooded men as your guards, answering to nobody but the untouchable suites in the US !
  • 1 Hide
    mariusmotea , October 1, 2013 4:26 AM
    NSA effect: big companies invest more in security, people don't feel any privacy when surfing the internet. Is not this therrorism?
  • 0 Hide
    wopr11 , October 1, 2013 4:50 AM
    This point in time presents a never before seen opportunity for international companies to flourish - if they are able to provide a service that will ensure the safety of the user's data with an infrastructure that guarantees privacy from all sorts of cybercriminals people will certainly be interested. It also presents great opportunities for international hardware companies - if they offer equipment that has not been tampered with by the NSA they will outsell any competitor in the market - present and future. Of course not all the countries would be worth trusting - we know some of the countries who have participated in this horrendous civilian cyber-espionage mess and those will never be trusted again.
  • 0 Hide
    analdwellingbuttmonkey1 , October 1, 2013 7:54 AM
    Yeah. This would make me very happy if I wasn't wasting tax money on the whole mess.
  • 0 Hide
    ddpruitt , October 1, 2013 7:56 AM
    You know this all depends on who houses the infrastructure. If they do this on say an Amazon S3 cluster it's still subject to FISA warrants and all the rhetoric would be useless.
  • 0 Hide
    basketcase87 , October 1, 2013 12:46 PM
    There already are NSA-free cloud storage platforms.
  • 0 Hide
    Tom Mandana , October 5, 2013 3:38 AM
    After my external drive died, and I loose all of my photos, i was very angry. Then I tried Dropbox (fine, but not enough space for me) and Sugarsync (for me it was very slow).

    Now i am using new awesome service "Copy".

    its very easy to use, with nice web, and you will get there 15GB of free space.

    If you want more space, just register on Copy and install their application to backup your data by this link:

    Then you will have awesome 20GB of free space!

    They have nice bonus, by each referral you can get now 5GB for free, so you can get unlimited free space!
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