Conceding defeat again, Symantec bows out of cloud file-sharing race

Increasing competition between Web file-sharing services has claimed a high-profile victim as security giant Symantec prepares to delete all user files and shutter its second cloud file-sharing effort just a year after its launch.

Symantec announced this month that it would close down its Norton Zone file-sharing service, which was launched in the US on 30 April 2013. While it was available to ANZ users, Norton Zone was never formally launched in this region.

The closure of Norton Zone came as the company admitted the service is “not yet solving [customer] needs fully” earlier this month, citing the features of competitive secure file-sharing offerings and customers' evolving needs.

“While security is one of our strengths, file-sharing is not,” a Symantec spokesperson told CSO Australia, conceding that the product was “a late entry to the market” and that “the discontinuation of Norton Zone will allow us to shift resources toward projects that play to our strengths, develop offerings that are innovative, and bring those offerings to market faster.”

Norton Zone is not the first cloud-storage service the company has shut down: on January 6, Symantec stopped selling its Backup service, also after a little more than a year, on the grounds that it lacked the mobile and content-sharing features that competing solutions now offer. That service will be available until 6 January 2015.

“Customers want features such as synch & share and mobile access,” the company's FAQ on the shutdown says, suggesting that the company would focus on adding such features to Norton Zone.

“Backup was not designed with these features in mind. As a result, Symantec has decided to discontinue Backup in order to focus on more productive and feature-rich cloud-based applications which include this type of functionality... Symantec will continue to invest in... innovative cloud-based storage, sharing and synchronization platforms.”

That FAQ recommends Norton Zone as a possible alternative and tells Backup users they are eligible to move to the solution “at any time”. However, discontinuing the Norton Zone service will effectively end the company's work in those areas, pushing customers to competing offerings as Symantec progresses a staggered shutdown of the service.

By July 7, users will no longer be able to access their files from mobile devices, but will be limited to accessing them from Windows or Mac computers.

Read more: File sharing service Workshare adds $8.4 million line of credit

On August 6, users' files and stored metadata about those files – including filenames and other attributes – will be “permanently deleted from the service and neither you nor Symantec will be able to access them.”

“This is a critical step in ensuring your privacy but it means you must be sure to copy all data out of Norton Zone before August 6,” the company advised in an email recently sent to users.

Symantec has put in place mechanisms to ensure that all copies of customer data are automatically and permanently deleted, with file encryption keys – stored separately from the files and used to encrypt every file stored in the service – also destroyed.

“Since every single file is encrypted, this measure will render the file completely inaccessible.”

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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