F-Secure Developing Secure Dropbox Alternative

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Finland-based security software firm F-Secure is reportedly developing a cloud-based file-sharing and backup service similar to Dropbox. The key selling point: security. Consumers will be able to move their business documents between personal devices and corporate systems with ease. It’s a great concept that hasn’t worked out well before.

Count F-Secure Corp. among the many software companies trying to cash in on the cloud computing and BYOD trend. The Finish security software company is developing a cloud-based file-sharing and backup service that will enable consumers to securely move business documents between personal devices and corporate resources.

The F-Secure service, which isn’t yet available, takes aim at the burgeoning BYOD trend, in which end users are utilizing their personal smartphones, tablets and PCs for business purposes. F-Secure is looking to not just cash in on the potential multi-billion marketplace, but disrupt file-sharing darlings Box Inc. and Dropbox Inc., which dominate this market segment.

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“It’s a fantastic thing for us,” said F-Secure CEO Christian Fredrikson in an interview with Bloomberg. “We have the package ready, now we need to expand. It’s a business where we need to have tens of millions of users to become relevant, instead of the millions we have now.”

By some estimates, there are already 2 billion smartphones and 400 million tablets in circulation. By 2015, mobile devices -- most owned by end users -- will be the primary Internet access device. Some analysts predict tablets will overtake conventional desktop and notebook PC sales by the end of 2013.

File-sharing and backup services are widely available, even if the segment isn’t well-defined. Some providers call their services “content management”; others will call it “cloud file storage”; and still others stick with the original “file synchronization.” All share common attributes: the ability to store files in the cloud, automatically synchronize across multiple devices and share files with other users.

The file-sharing segment is dominated by Box, a business-oriented service that has taken in more than $150 million in its most recent fund-raising round; and Dropbox, a consumer-oriented service with more than 100 million registered users. Others include SugarSync Inc., Egnyte Inc., ShareFile and Syncplicity LLC. Arguably, Microsoft Corp.’s SkyDrive and Google's Drive fall into the file synchronization category because of their sharing attributes.

There’s no shortage of file-sharing services, and F-Secure isn’t the first security vendor to try its hand at offering a secure alternative. In 2011, Trend Micro Inc. launched Safe Sync, a file-sharing service purported to be more secure than those offered by Dropbox or Box. While it had many fine security and functional features, Trend Micro wasn’t able to excite its resellers or customers with the cloud-based product.

F-Secure is betting it can break through by using security as a differentiator, but also plying its channel relationships with OEMs, telecommunications carriers and resellers.

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