File sharing and the control over the data within file sharing sits on a continuum. On one end are the consumer offerings that are incredibly easy to use and come with enough, but not too much, functionality.
At the other end, we have the solutions that are enterprise-focused. These solutions tend towards big, heavy, monolithic structures and myriad levels of control. They're all about ticking the boxes for enterprise security departments, and while they're certainly robust, they're not exactly known for user-friendliness. Indeed, the so-called "Dropbox problem" where enterprises see high levels of nonmandated solution use, came about largely because enterprise solutions are often so awful to use.
Easy-to-use, enterprise-level content protection
What about if you could have a modicum of enterprise-level functionality, but within a quick and easy user paradigm. This is the angle Digify is trying to push. The company was created with the idea of simplicity with control—content protection but easily, freely and effectively.
Feel-good words aside, how is Digify tackling this problem and what does their solution look like?
Digify is an extension for the popular Chrome browser that allows various control and audit functionalities for users of Gmail. In particular, the extensions allows users to:
- Track email attachments: Gain statistics on who/when an attachment has been viewed and for how long
- Make attachments self-destruct
- Unsend attachments (beyond Gmail’s 30-second undo send)
- Add security to the attachments with copy protection and built-in encryption
The focus here is on bringing a level of enterprise security down to individuals, startups and small businesses. As Digify points out, large businesses have access to security technology when closing big deals or sharing trade secrets to be sure that files they share online are not unwittingly shared with the wrong people, copied or downloaded. Digify recognizes that many businesses, startups and even the average consumer have the same need. The company believes there is a mid-point, and organizations don't have to choose between easy and dangerous at one end and safe but horrible to use on the other:
“Simplicity, Control, and Security are the core of Digify. ... It’s about showing users that there can be a balance between security and convenience,” wrote Augustine Lim, the CEO of Digify.
Digify is targeting a big market. Gmail has over 1 billion active users and a claimed 5 million business customers. Many of those individuals will also be users of Chrome (since Chrome is, after all, very Google/Gmail friendly). Put the two together, and the fact that installing a Chrome plugin takes little time at all, and you have a pretty easy on ramp.
The fact that Digify has a basic service that is free and is embedded within the native Gmail interface means there is very little reason not to, at least, give it a try. Digify for Gmail leverages the existing Digify platform but simply packages it up ready for Gmail/Chrome users.
The barriers to entry here are small, if non existent. There is also the small point that, frankly, basic level security like this should (arguably) be a core part of Gmail's offering, especially for Google's paying work customers. Add those two things together, and the fact that a couple of Google's engineers could probably knock up what Digify is doing pretty quickly, and you have a business that is difficult to defend.
That's not to say that Digify isn't useful. It most certainly is—and for anyone who has low-level security requirements—but it needs more than Gmail-already offers. It's kind of a no-brainer. But if you were to ask me whether Digify for Gmail will be a real business into the future, I'd have to admit to being skeptical.
This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?