There's thunder and lightning in the cloud these days. And the rumbling is all about security. Could peer-to-peer file transfers be the answer? As the old accounting adage goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat.
ESTMob's two-year-old Send Anywhere offers file-transfer apps that bypass Web servers for all platforms and connected devices. That means those sensitive, ultra private files you don't want anyone to see stay that way.
It works like this: You select a file and hit the Send button. You'll get a six-digit code to send to your client, or you can go to the receiving device yourself if you're sending to one of your own devices. On the receiving end, you or your client punches in the code and the file is delivered.
The service works via apps for iOS and Android devices, and PCs and Macs.
For those sometimes funky WiFi connections on mobiles when you're sending to someone on another network, you'd use Send Anywhere's "optimal node server" that simply assists the connection—it doesn't touch the files, says Alex Gershon, the company's business development associate.
"Nothing is stored and we are a P2P [peer-to-peer] file transfer system—files go directly from me to you", he says. "And we use SSL encryption, which is like a concrete tunnel around the connection, so only you and the recipient can see what's being sent."
For accountants and tax attorneys, it's about as secure as you can get, he says.
It's important, though, that you keep the temporary six-digit code secret, Gershon adds. Enhanced security keys are available in a mix of numbers and letters through the app settings. (On a side note, Gershon is big on smart, multiple passwords. Too many people use the same password for all of their accounts, he says.)
Security, and secure servers, are a growing concern nationwide. A cyberattack last summer on JP Morgan Chase affected 76 million account holders and 7 million small businesses, according to a New York Times report in October. Citing unnamed sources, the report indicates that hackers burrowed their way into more than 90 servers.
JP Morgan Chase is hardly an isolated case, though it may be among the largest. Target and Home Depot have sustained attacks that affected more than 150 million cardholders and other customers, according to the article.
No wonder people increasingly are on edge, and its beginning to show. A recent survey by market researcher and consultant Software Advice indicates a decidedly mixed view by respondents about use of the cloud.
We recently posted an article with similar findings, particularly about security, in a survey by CPA2Biz, the AICPA's for-profit technology subsidiary.
Still, Gershon acknowledges that cloud storage is a competitor. Some users might consider Send Anywhere's lack of cloud storage a problem when they need to create space on their computers and store files somewhere.
But, he adds",that's what external hard drives are for."
Terry Sheridan is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate, mortgage finance, health care, insurance, personal finance, and accounting and taxation issues for newspapers, magazines, and websites. A Chicago native and former South Florida resident, she now lives in New England.