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Dropbox Testing Two-Step Authentication

Dropbox Testing Two-Step Authentication
By Barry Levine

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If Dropbox users select to receive the security code by text, text messages will be sent to their phones whenever they sign on with their password. For those choosing third-party apps, the apps must support the Time-based One-Time Password standard. In addition to the six-digit security code, Dropbox users will also need a password to sign in.
 


As it promised to do following a hacking incident reported earlier this summer, Dropbox is rolling out two-step authentication for users of its cloud-based storage site. The announcement was made last week in the company's forum.

The two-step verifications will provide "an extra layer of protection to your account," the company said, by requiring an additional security code that is first sent to a cell phone by a text message, or that is generated with a third-party mobile authenticator app on Android, iOS, BlackBerry or Windows Phone devices.

TOTP Standard

In addition to the six-digit security code obtained from the app or text, a user will also need a password to sign into Dropbox or to link a new device.

If a user selects to receive the security code by text, a text message will be sent to their phone whenever they sign on with their password. For those choosing third-party apps, it will need to support the Time-based One-Time Password standard, or TOTP. Those apps include Google Authenticator for Android, iPhone or BlackBerry, Amazon Web Services' Multi-Factor Authentication for Android, and Authenticator for Windows Phone 7 devices.

The "experimental build" of the new verification was announced on the forum, the company said, as it wanted to give "our loyal forum viewers a chance to try it out first."

Forum users will need to upgrade to the latest forum build, version 1.5.12, and then click a two-step verification link and utilize the option. There's no word yet as to when this new security enhancement will be officially launched for all Dropbox users.

Other Security Measures

Earlier this month, Dropbox acknowledged that its storage service had been hacked, and said it would be adding new security measures. An internal investigation revealed that stolen usernames and passwords had been used to sign into some Dropbox accounts.

The tip-off was in the form of e-mails from some users, who had complained about spam they were receiving at e-mail addresses they used only for their Dropbox accounts.

The company reported that one of the stolen passwords had been used to gain access to a Dropbox account of a company employee, which contained a project document with user e-mail addresses. The company apologized for the slip-up, which it believes led to the spam, and added that "additional controls" were being put in place to prevent a recurrence -- such as two-step authentication.

In addition to two-step authentication, new automated mechanisms are being used to help identify suspicious activity. The company may also require a user to change a password, if, for example, it's a common password or hasn't been changed in a while.

Dropbox's investigation following the spam complaints initially found that no security breaches had taken place, although that was later revised. A key question is whether this breach, and the company's responses to it, will affect its continuing efforts to market its services to businesses. While competitor Box is more business-oriented, Dropbox has been targeting companies as part of its strategy for growth.
 

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