SafeNet, for example, just launched a beta of SafeMonk, which adds a secure encryption log-in to Dropbox. Essentially, the data you store in Dropbox can't even be accessed by Dropbox itself because users get to keep the encryption keys.
Ironically, SafeNet also happens to be one of the largest suppliers of encryption technology to the U.S. government.
SafeMonk, which will be available for download at the end of this month, works by creating a dedicated encrypted folder in your Dropbox account. The service also allows users to share files by offering others an RSA public key password and will eventually offer businesses administrative oversight so admins can monitor traffic and restrict corporate data access.
SafeMonk is free to consumers, who can download the software and start encrypting and sharing Dropbox files at no cost. For business customers, SafeMonk plans to charge for its service once it is available, though prices have not yet been set.
Chris Ensey, who runs the security division of Dunbar Armored, an armored transportation service, has been beta testing SafeMonk, largely in a bid to thwart to malware and cybercriminals.
He was able to take part in the initial beta testing because he worked for SafeNet last summer, before SafeMonk was created.
Ensey and his wife used the cloud encryption tool during a recent refinancing of their house. Initially, the security-sensitive Ensey passed along sensitive financial data to his mortgage broker using a USB thumb drive, something that turned into a laborious process. With SafeMonk, the couple could securely share files quickly.
"At some point you get worried that email isn't something that is very secure. Anything you put in there is being indexed by Google," he said, referring to Gmail. "I like having more control over that.
"And [my wife] doesn't even realize it's there. It's transparent," he continued. "This product is really pretty approachable. I just point to a folder and tell her anything you put in this will be protected."
Ensey also said he'd like to see the tool expanded for mobile and Android OS use.
SafeNet is not alone in offering a virtual padlock for cloud-based data stores. Vendors such as Boxcryptor, Sookasa, TrustedSafe and PKWare with its Viivo offering, are also going after the same market, according Heiser. So is CipherCloud, which is expected to offer consumer cloud encryption protection.
Willy Leichter, senior director of product marketing for CipherCloud, said virtual padlocks for cloud storage is a nascent but "hot" area for his company, especially in light of the increase in government requests to vendors for access to customer data.
Through its CipherCloud Platform, the company currently offers cloud data encryption and data loss prevention (DLP) tools for businesses. CipherCloud recently announced a partnership with cloud storage and content-sharing service Box.com, offering both encryption and DLP to users.
While Leichter said CipherCloud's cloud encryption business is "growing rapidly," he would not expound on whether his company plans to begin selling a consumer-class product anytime soon.
Businesses are acutely sensitive to government information requests because they're also beholden to privacy laws, such as HIPAA and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. So, in highly regulated industries, such as financial services and healthcare, businesses must strike a balance between government oversight and consumer privacy.