Google makes it easier to back up media from Chromebooks to Drive

It’s no secret that Chromebooks rely heavily on Google Drive cloud storage. The devices have the capability to store data locally, of course, but Google provides far more capacity in the cloud and even integrates Google Drive into the Files app on Chromebooks.

Now the company is looking to improve the process of backing up local files to the cloud, particularly those on removable media. [company]Google[/company]’s François Beaufort is keeping us up to date on the experimental feature, which for now is called Cloud Backup.

cloud-backup Chrome OS

On Thursday, Beaufort provided the latest update, explaining how to use Cloud Backup to automatically sync photos and videos from a memory card or USB drive to Google Drive in Chrome OS:

Insert any removable media device such as a USB key or a SD Card which contains at its root the famous DCIM folder. Then, navigate to this folder and notice the ‘cloud’ icon at the very top right corner. Click on it and you’re done! Your photos and videos will be automatically synced to your Google Drive under a newly created photos folder.

The Cloud Backup feature is available to any Chrome OS device but you have to be using the Dev channel of Google’s operating system.

The Dev channel is generally considered to the most cutting-edge version of Chrome OS, because it has many experimental features and is updated the most often. By comparison, the Beta channel is updated every two weeks or so, while new features graduate to the Stable channel every six weeks.

This means that as Google refines Cloud Backup, it will eventually migrate over time to all users. My hope is that Chrome OS users will have the option to enable or disable Cloud Backup, though: With some Chromebooks getting just 100 or 200 GB of Drive storage, heavy camera users could lose track of their free space in the cloud.

Check your Google security settings, receive 2GB of free Drive storage

Here’s an easy way to get 2GB of Google Drive storage: In the next week, head to Google’s security checkup page and follow the instructions. On February 28, Google will credit your account with the additional cloud storage space. The security checkup takes less than 5 minutes to complete, and it’s simple — it asks you what your backup email address is, whether any recent account activity is odd, and to review the various apps you’ve given Google account permissions to (there are probably a lot.) Sure, 2GB of additional Google Drive space isn’t a ton (you get 15GB for free), but you probably should review your security settings anyway.

Pro tip: If you use cloud storage, bring your own security

If you weren’t already worried about the security of your company’s internal memos and other documents, the recent Sony hack probably fixed that (and reinforced the message that if you don’t want egg on your face, you shouldn’t write embarrassing emails).

Here’s the thing: Security is hard, and as we’ve heard over and over, it requires a mix of technologies from different providers, constant vigilance and good end-user practices to safeguard a company’s crown jewels.

Thanks to widely publicized breaches at Target, Home Depot and — yes — [company]Sony[/company], companies are reconsidering their security practices, according to a new research note from Nomura Securities analyst Frederick Grieb. That means more budget will flow to security next year and also that top-notch Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and Chief Security Officers (CSOs) with expertise in both relevant technologies and their company’s business and regulatory requirements are in short supply.

Lesson: Add your own security

In that vein, the director of security for a Fortune 100 healthcare provider recently told me that keeping company data and documents secure, requires that companies layer additional security atop whatever cloud storage and file share service is used. These storage vendors may have good marketing statements, but when you drill down, not very good security stories, he said.

Speaking on the condition that neither his or his company’s name be disclosed, he said the issue for a highly regulated company like his is to ensure that a document — whether it’s a PDF file of a doctor’s report or a digital X-ray of a broken arm — is protected not only at both ends (“at rest”) but also in transit (“in motion”).

That’s because the basic problem of the internet is that traffic goes through any number of third parties. “You don’t know and you can’t trust that your file is private — it’s like sending a postcard in the mail — anyone can read it,” he noted.

To address this, his company is deploying fan-favorite Dropbox but is also using a third-party product, nCrypted Cloud, to encrypt files before they’re sent, which leaves the encryption keys in the hands of the customer. The cloud storage provider, whether it’s [company]Dropbox[/company] or Box or Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive does not hold those keys and cannot access the files or disclose them to third parties. (Neither does nCrypted Cloud, which competes with WatchDox and Sookasa, for that matter),

Shutterstock/deepspacedave

He’ s also trying out a new nCrypted Cloud product, Infinite Mail, that strips out attachments embedded in messages, and replaces them with secure links that the intended recipient can open as set up by an IT administrator. It supports popular [company]Microsoft[/company] and [company]Google[/company] email products.

If the problem of secure mail can be solved, this security exec sees possibly huge perks down the road. Currently, the cost of printing and mailing reports and benefits documentation is humongous — it can cost a company like his up to $100 million a year. If there is a way to guarantee secure digital delivery of such documents to the right end users, the cost savings could be huge.

Google releases, open sources tools for linear optimization

Google has built a linear optimization add-on for its Google Drive spreadsheet application, as well as an associated API for developers. It also open sourced the underlying code via a project called “Glop.” As the company explains in a blog post, “Any time you have a set of linear constraints such as ‘at least 50 square meters of solar panels’ … along with a linear goal (e.g., ‘minimize cost’ or ‘maximize customers served’), that’s a linear optimization problem.” Google, for example, used linear optimization to solve shakiness on YouTube videos. Earlier this month, it open sourced an R library for inferring causation from correlative data.

Google Drive on the web can cast presentations to a Chromecast

Google(s goog) has been testing this feature for a while, but today it became widely available: Google Drive users on the web can now run presentations straight from Google Drive to a Chromecast. If you’ve got a crispy slide deck on Google’s cloud suite, simply point your mouse to the Present button in the top right corner; a drop down menu option labeled “Present on another device” is the ticket to getting your presentation onto a screen. Of course, you’ll need to be on the same Wi-Fi network as the Chromecast, and you’ll need the Google Cast Chrome extension enabled. Although Google hasn’t mentioned the possibility of this feature coming to Android or iOS(s aapl), I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s only a matter of time.