Networking

How to use Firefox Send for secure file sharing

Firefox Test Pilot is now kicking the tires of a new file sharing service. Jack Wallen shows how to use Send and explains why this might be one of the best options for the average user.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Sharing files has become standard operating procedure. We do it every day, with files of varying size and importance. Many times we resort to the likes of Dropbox or Google—both services are relatively easy to use. However, Mozilla thinks there's an even easier way to share those larger files (up to 1GB) and have created Send.

At the moment, Send is still labeled as a "web experiment." I've tested this experiment and, from my experience, this is one of the easiest means of sharing larger files to come across my path. In fact, it's so easy to use, this could be the file sharing service your company might want to consider. It's not perfect, but at this point in the game, I'm happy there is an option to securely share files that anyone can use.

How does it work? Simple:

  • Point your browser to the Send page
  • Upload your file (Figure A)
  • After the file is uploaded, copy the generated link
  • Email the link

That's it. You can do this for files up to 1GB in size.

Figure A

Figure A

Sending a file is but a click or two away.

Let's deconstruct Send a bit.

Security

Send uses AES-128 to encrypt and authenticate data. Even before the file is uploaded to the Send servers, it is encrypted and authenticated. Send also makes use of the Web cryptography API; an agnostic API that performs basic cryptographic operations (such as hashing, signature generation and verification, encryption, and decryption—all from within a web interface). Thanks to the Web cryptography API, there is no need for users to deal with encryption or decryption keys; thereby making Send quite simple to use.

The one major caveat to the security of Send is that anyone who has the download link can download the file. That means, should someone intercept the email with the link, they could have at your file. There three saving graces to this are:

  • As soon as the file is downloaded, it is deleted from the server.
  • The uploaded file will be automatically deleted, from the Send servers, after 24 hours (whether the file has been downloaded or not).
  • You can manually delete said file by clicking the Delete file button (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

Manually deleting the file is an option.

A word of warning about the Delete file button. Once you move away from the upload page, that page will no longer be available. That means, if you plan on making use of that Delete file button, you need to keep that page open until you know there's no need to manually delete the file.

SEE: Essential reading for IT leaders: 10 books on cybersecurity (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
SEE: Cyber Security Volume IV: End Point Protection (TechRepublic Academy)

Compatibility

I've tested Send in Chrome, Firefox, Epiphany, Vivaldi, and Microsoft Edge, as well as the mobile versions of Firefox and Chrome. Each of those browsers used Send without issue. The only browser I did not test was Safari. Upon initial release, Send did not support the MacOS browser. It would be a safe bet that support will soon be coming for Apple's browser.

Kick the tires

Because Send is a part of Test Pilot, Mozilla will be gathering statistics to see if the service is something they want to continue offering. In other words, the more people that kick the tires of Send, the better the chance it will remain.

If you're looking for an easy way to safely share a one-time download link to a file, you'd be hard-pressed to find an easier solution than Send.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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