You really know you’ve made it when someone names a sickness after you. Such is the case of Dropbox, and what is known as Dropbox syndrome. We’ll get to that in a minute after looking at WatchDox’s sync feature which is due to be released next month.

WatchDox hasn’t given a precise date for the release, but by adding the sync feature it is placing itself on a pedestal as an alternative to Box or Dropbox.

And it already has a lot of their functionality too, while the addition of Sync adds a new element that deals with one of the major problems with file sharing and collaboration, notably access and security.

In other words, even with the most secure system in the world, once an employee can open a file, attach it, and send it to a recipient outside of the enterprise firewall, you have a potential security breach waiting to happen.

WatchDox, with this new feature, says it will be dealing with this problem at a very fundamental level -- within the document or content element  itself.

WatchDox's Secure File Sharing

Stepping back slightly, what WatchDox says it is doing is extending its data-centric security platform beyond personal sync folders to apply it to synced collaborative workspaces across multiple devices.

The security is built into the data itself, WatchDox says,offering visibility and control over documents that enterprises currently do not have.

Enterprises must offer a more secure alternative with the control and visibility that IT needs, without making the product unusable. Otherwise, users will continue to use insecure tools like Dropbox and Box...” said Ryan Kalember, chief product officer at WatchDox said of the new feature.

He also points out that with a variety of consumer file sharing options currently available, users expect access to all their data from any device, at any time, which many CIOs refer to as ‘Dropbox syndrome.

And as a culture of Bring-Your-Own-Device continues to flourish with more company data ending up in the cloud, the problem is going to get worse before it gets better.

Learning Opportunities

The legality of cloud storage for regulated industries is also still in question, with no major regulation providing clear guidance on the acceptability of cloud storage of regulated data.

File Access

WatchDox, however, offers an alternative to that. It offers a system where controls are applied on every platform no matter what it is, including controls over who can access particular files, whether it can be shared, and how it can be used on the desktop, tablet or smartphone.

It also offers the possibility of changing the security settings so that once a given user no longer needs to access given materials or files, they can be excluded from accessing those files, even if those files have been downloaded to a homePC or synced to an iPad.

Functionality of the new WatchDox’s sync feature includes:

  • Enable users to sync documents from any device into both personal sync folders and collaborative workspaces
  • Automatically track and protect files using set enterprise policies
  • Complete record of document actions including where and when they were accessed and by who
  • Block access to individual devices even after files have been downloaded
  • Use of enterprise authentication mechanisms like Active Directory

WatchDox has been building up functionality since it was founded in 2007 and has been using investment from funding rounds to develop products and expand the company, the most recent of which was in March this year and worth US$ 9 million.

While it may have a way to go before really taking on Box, or even Dropbox, it's definitely heading that way.