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A few months ago, Joshua reviewed the iTwin iTwin Review and Giveaway iTwin Review and Giveaway The iTwin is an incredibly unique device that creates a secure bridge between your home computer and any remote computers, allowing you access to specific files (or your entire hard drive) from any location. No... Read More — an interesting device ($99) which when plugged into a computer, automatically creates an unlimited and secure file sharing network. Now, the iTwin has been updated to include SecureBox, an encryption feature which utilises Dropbox.

We’ll take you through iTwin SecureBox and show you exactly how it works. We’re also giving away 5 iTwins at the end of this review! So if you’re into file security and encryption, or if you’re someone who values privacy, you won’t want to miss this giveaway.

What is an iTwin?

Although my colleague Joshua Lockhart published an extensive review on the iTwin iTwin Review and Giveaway iTwin Review and Giveaway The iTwin is an incredibly unique device that creates a secure bridge between your home computer and any remote computers, allowing you access to specific files (or your entire hard drive) from any location. No... Read More , I’ll briefly go over its features again, just to help you understand what it actually does. Basically, the iTwin is a coupled USB hardware key — it’s made up of two halves, joined together in the middle. No data is stored on the iTwin, it merely helps to create an instant, configuration-free, secure file sharing or remote access connection between the two halves of the device when connected to two different computers. So the idea is to plug one end of the iTwin into one PC, load it up, then break off the second half and plug that into another computer and instantly share files between the two computers.

The file sharing connection/network created by the iTwin is virtually unlimited, so you can share as many files necessary without having to worry about storage limits. Shared files remain on the host computer and nothing is stored on third-party servers. In addition to that, the iTwin encrypts all data before performing any transfers. In theory, using an iTwin is more secure than utilising any cloud storage or file sharing service available online because both halves of the iTwin are required to initiate the file sharing connection. But is it perfect? Short answer: No, and I shall explain the caveats towards the end of this review.

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iTwin SecureBox

SecureBox is a new feature implemented by the iTwin developers which utilises Dropbox in order to provide seamless file encryption, using either half of the iTwin as the access key. So the function of SecureBox is not file sharing per se, but rather securing online/cloud storage via Dropbox. If you’re thinking that the iTwin SecureBox can encrypt every existing file in your Dropbox folder, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you. Instead, SecureBox merely utilises Dropbox as a form of syncing, the encryption/decryption process is handled by the iTwin device and client, which you’ll have to download and install before the iTwin can be used. We’ll go through the process now.

Very simply, think of SecureBox as a virtual briefcase in conjunction with Dropbox, and the iTwin device is the key.

The first step is to initialise the iTwin device and install the client, and this is done by plugging either end of the iTwin (both halves must be connected) into any USB port on a Windows or Mac computer. On a Windows PC, the auto-installer will automatically run. On a Mac however, it needs to be manually launched in Finder. The installer requires an Internet connection in order to download the necessary files from the iTwin server.

Once the client is installed, the setup process begins. You will be prompted to name the iTwin device and set a password. Once this process is complete, the iTwin will be fully initiated and can then be used to securely access and share files between 2 computers using both halves of the device. However, this review will focus on the new SecureBox feature. If you’re interested to learn more about iTwin’s file sharing features, please read Joshua’s review iTwin Review and Giveaway iTwin Review and Giveaway The iTwin is an incredibly unique device that creates a secure bridge between your home computer and any remote computers, allowing you access to specific files (or your entire hard drive) from any location. No... Read More .

As mentioned earlier, in order to use SecureBox, you will need a Dropbox account. During the setup, you will be asked to associate your Dropbox account with the iTwin device in order to allow it to upload encrypted files to your Dropbox.

Once the setup is complete, a new folder entitled “iTwin Securebox (name of device)” will be created within your Dropbox folder. Be warned, you should not edit this folder directly. SecureBox uses this folder to store and sync encrypted files. Any direct manipulation will cause SecureBox to function improperly. To make life easier, it’s better to entirely forget that this folder exists (and don’t use it!).

Instead, you should really be more interested with the SecureBox drive that has just been created (bottom window in the screenshot below). It appears as a mounted drive, and every file that needs to be encrypted should be copied to the SecureBox. Drag and drop any file over the SecureBox window and it will automatically be copied, encrypted, and synced with Dropbox. Files which have been successfully encrypted are indicated by the lock icon. Subsequently, the encrypted version is copied to Dropbox (top window).

As I said, it’s better to forget that the companion folder in Dropbox even exists. However, I’d like to illustrate what happens in the background. When a file is added to the SecureBox, it is encrypted with an AES 256-bit encryption key stored in the iTwin device (hardware encryption), then the encrypted file is copied to the folder in Dropbox, which will sync with Dropbox’s servers. Your file is now encrypted and in the cloud. If anyone somehow manages to gain access to your Dropbox folder and tries to view the encrypted file, all they’ll see is gibberish.

So in essence, iTwin SecureBox combines the security of its 256-bit AES hardware encryption with the flexibility and accessibility of Dropbox. Not a bad combination altogether. And since it utilises Dropbox, it only makes sense that the encrypted files have to be completely uploaded before they can be accessed anywhere else. Otherwise, you’ll be prompted with this error message:

How secure is the iTwin SecureBox?

If you think about it, the iTwin uses a combination of security practises to protect your data. In order to access your files, first and foremost, you will need to physically be in possession of the iTwin (or one half of it). To use it though, you will also need to know the password created during the setup process before the client can be accessed. So even if your iTwin is stolen, your data will still be protected until your password is cracked. Rest assured, each iTwin device can be remotely disabled, so in the event of theft, simple disable the iTwin and your files remain secure.

Complete security, however, comes at a price — and the price in this case is convenience. Since the iTwin utilises hardware encryption, you will never be able to access your files on a mobile device e.g. tablet, smartphone because the iTwin client needs to run in order to decrypt your files.

I’ve also found the iTwin’s device to be lacklustre. The amount of exposed components is slightly worrying. Plus, there’s just no easy solution for transporting the iTwin. It doesn’t come with a case, nor does it provide a way to attach it to a keychain. I fear it will be quite easy to lose simply because it’s such a small device.

Should you buy the iTwin?

What I like about the iTwin is the fact that no data is stored on the device. So even if it gets lost or stolen, my data remains relatively safe. The iTwin provides a simple way to securely share sensitive files between 2 or more people, with zero configuration. Requiring a hardware key (the iTwin) makes the entire file sharing system more secure. SecureBox is a lovely addition to the iTwin and will be really handy if and when the device is redesigned. Otherwise, it’s just a hassle to carry around. The $99 price may be slightly too high for consumers, even after taking its features into consideration.

In conclusion, I think the iTwin is great in terms of functionality, but is let down by poor design, and a high price point.

MakeUseOf recommends: don’t buy it (yet).

We’re giving away 5 iTwins this week! If you’re looking for an effortless encryption and secure file sharing solution, this is it!

How do I win an iTwin?

Step 1: Fill in the giveaway form

Please fill in the form with your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. MakeUseOf giveaways are open to readers worldwide*.

The giveaway code required to activate the form is available from our Facebook page, Twitter stream and Google+ page.

The giveaway is over. Here are the winners:
  • Steve Cowing
  • Gregg Cameron
  • Jonas Eikeland
  • Tim Bovey
  • Bernard Wang

Congratulations! You would have received an email from jackson@makeuseof.com. If you require any assistance, please get in touch with Associate Editor Jackson Chung before Dec 31. Enquires beyond this date will not be entertained.

Step 2: Share!

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post!

Like it

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(Note: no points will be awarded.)

By participating in this giveaway, you agree to the giveaway rules.

*Exclusions apply. See giveaway rules for further details.

This giveaway begins now and ends Saturday, December 22nd. The winners will be selected at random and informed via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

Interested in sponsoring a giveaway? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via the form at the bottom of this page.

  1. Atman
    December 22, 2012 at 11:18 am

    good one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Collin Tucker
    December 22, 2012 at 7:11 am

    This will help for so many different things, mainly group projects where I need to share lots of files very quickly.

  3. Moez bouhlel
    December 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    i will be nice if its client supports linux

  4. apn58
    December 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Thank you!

  5. Anonymous
    December 19, 2012 at 5:07 am

    Thanks for giveaway

  6. Safwan Khatri
    December 19, 2012 at 4:13 am

    want to win some thing

  7. Rianne Rocamora
    December 18, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    The gadget looks so cool...

  8. Vinh
    December 18, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Thank you for the giveaway and good luck everyone!

  9. Muhammad Rizwan
    December 18, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    iTwin....sounds good...Truecrypt = Rocks cause its free

  10. Dave Rimmer
    December 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Nice giveaway count me in please and thanks.

  11. Valentin Tudor
    December 18, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Interesting little device! Would love to win it!

  12. Justin
    December 18, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Entering sweepstakes

  13. Debbie Franklin
    December 18, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    This sounds like a great item to have if you share files back & fourth between computers. The only thing that I think would be even better would be that you could also share with your phone shoo you could transfer files between your phone & your computer, that would be awesome! Would love to have this I item!

  14. tony harrington
    December 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Looks like a good deal. Would like to win one if possible.

  15. Andy Pretzsch
    December 18, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Well, I don't think this would be usefull for me. Either I let the stick in the USB-slot of my notebook or I can't find it because I have no idea how to carry it with me.
    I think tis one should be like the 'key usb stick' small enough to carry it with my money.

  16. adi birn
    December 18, 2012 at 7:55 am

    if i don't get it where can i buy one?

  17. Manish
    December 18, 2012 at 7:25 am

    so now do you ship these to India or still living in the old age world?

  18. Ravinder Putta
    December 18, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Thanks For The Giveaway :))

  19. Ben Muriru
    December 18, 2012 at 6:25 am

    I need to get my hands on one of these

  20. Judy Weismonger
    December 18, 2012 at 4:06 am

    I love this device. I have 5 laptops out of work necessity and I really need this.
    Thank you,
    Judy

  21. Mayur Godhani
    December 18, 2012 at 3:35 am

    I was waiting for giveaway related to security device on makeuseof and finally its on !!
    I'm In... Good luck all.

  22. Abu El-Qordlowiy
    December 18, 2012 at 1:22 am

    Very vey great giveaway programme. I hope to be one of the winner

  23. Nancy B
    December 17, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Wow! what a devise. I can see where alot of jobs and businesses this would be handy for.
    But like you said needs to have some sort of carrying case or key ring attachment so it won't get lost so easily.
    Can you imagine, going through all the steps to load it then on the way to a meeting losing it? Super annoying!
    And yes the price is a little high yet for the home consumer.
    The technology is cool though!

  24. Marty
    December 17, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    great little concept for this device

  25. farid branki
    December 17, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    hope to win>

  26. Lee
    December 17, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Yes they should have made it possible to easily transport via a keychain or had it so that one or the other you could retract the USB connection or had a cover for the USB connectors.

  27. Steven Thomas
    December 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Good luck all!

  28. Igor Victorov
    December 17, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Useful device, I want it.

  29. Hoc Nguyen Triet
    December 17, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    So beautiful. Hope to get it. Thanks Makes use of :D

  30. Karen Ang
    December 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I think I want this

  31. Anita Lee
    December 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I like the idea that it is integrated with Dropbox.

  32. malross
    December 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks...this looks like a great device

  33. Nicola De Ieso
    December 17, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Very great giveaway. I hope to win

  34. Gino den Ridder
    December 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Nice one for the Holidays!

  35. Lynn Rosebur
    December 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    I am very interested in this device,

  36. Anonymous
    December 17, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Love the idea ... free is also good!

  37. Lynn Rosebur
    December 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    I am very interested in this device.

  38. Concerned Citizen ?
    December 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Neat device. Thanks for the giveaway ! Rgds...

  39. Don Armstrong
    December 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Great idea I could use this at home and travelling. Don

  40. Ronda Williams
    December 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    this would make a great stocking stuffer!!

  41. Obed Cutaran
    December 17, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Is this better than Yubikey? I just bought Yubikey for my computer and stuff

  42. Christopher Webb-Orenstein
    December 17, 2012 at 4:08 am

    Wicked cool!

  43. Ben Jacobs
    December 17, 2012 at 2:42 am

    This would be vary handy to have around actually. Even interested in getting one for my mother.

  44. Junil Maharjan
    December 16, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Hope I win this time. This looks amazing.

  45. Sebastian Hadinata
    December 16, 2012 at 4:09 am

    Great, would love to try it.

  46. Mike Crabill
    December 16, 2012 at 3:49 am

    Sounds interesting, I'm interested to see what newer versions will be like. An improvement on the physical design would benefit it.

  47. Viren Sakariya
    December 16, 2012 at 3:07 am

    Only for Mac. or For both,Windows & Mac.

  48. Nguyen Huy Anh
    December 16, 2012 at 2:35 am

    This device is great for secure file transmission :)

  49. Chee Yong Hsia
    December 15, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Great Giveaway :)

  50. Ron Lister
    December 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Kindof a cool solution to secure file sharing, even if its a pain to carrie around. im sure I could come up hith a holder for it.

  51. Ana Georgievska
    December 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    best Christams gift!

  52. akshay chandna
    December 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    sweet !!

  53. Boni Oloff
    December 15, 2012 at 11:11 am

    I hope can win this one. Looks like i never got lucky when there is giveaway here..

  54. Nikhil Chandak
    December 15, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Thanks Jackson !!
    Some time before u did the giveaway of Itwin (not the securebox)
    Please Jackson Chung choose me ...

  55. Gurjot Singh
    December 15, 2012 at 2:18 am

    ONE WORD FOR THIS >>>> " WOW "

  56. Emmanuel
    December 15, 2012 at 1:31 am

    I'm kind of skeptical about this device since it's not FIPS 140-2 or EAL validated.

    I highly recommend FIPS validated encrypted devices.

  57. Eucadio Novelo
    December 15, 2012 at 12:57 am

    It will come in handy! Hope i win it!

  58. Bill Digiglio
    December 15, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Thanks...

  59. dan pozdnyakov
    December 14, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    Could be useful :P

  60. Jason Williams
    December 14, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    i so wanted this when you gave the one away early this year. hopefully i can win one of these 5

  61. Stacy Rios
    December 14, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Where could I acquire one of these?

    • Saikat Basu
      December 16, 2012 at 5:27 am

      Stacy, everything is explained in the post. You have to participate and hope luck of the draw comes your way :)

  62. Brian Howard
    December 14, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Is there a reason why the element on the top of the page shows my name and how many points that I have earned in Internet Explorer and Firefox but not on a naked (fresh with no extensions added) installation of Chrome?

    This looks like a pretty cool device to play with.

  63. Anonymous
    December 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    I want to "break it" ;)

  64. Jo haynes
    December 14, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Be great to win something.

  65. Hoku Sarroca
    December 14, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Good luck everyone !

  66. Malkhaz Abuladze
    December 14, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    thank you

  67. Macwitty
    December 14, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Sweet! Jackson, hope you'll come with this as Santa Claus ;)

  68. Brenden Barlow
    December 14, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    this would be really cool to get to play around with.....i may have to try to win it!

  69. Arxadius Stark
    December 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    I hope I can get this! Fingers crossed! c:

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