WeTransfer & Privacy: How secure is the data transfer?

How secure is WeTransfer

WeTransfer is not as secure as most people with that it was. We would say it is 50% secure. WeTransfer is an online service that makes it easy to send large file attachments to other recipients. But how secure is this practical data transfer option in terms of data protection? With WeTransfer, files up to 2 gigabytes in size can be sent. This is particularly convenient for users if, for example, photos or videos are too large to be sent by e-mail, but are to be sent bundled and in high quality. However, since the introduction of the GDPR at the latest, users should take a closer look when using such services. Is sending data via WeTransfer secure? The following article provides an overview. 

Data poorly protected at WeTransfer

The idea behind it: The user first transfers the data he wants to send to WeTransfer's servers and then sends the recipient the corresponding download link by e-mail. Both the upload of the data and the sending of the link are encrypted. So there are no risks at this point. But there are risks in other areas:

  • The e-mail that the recipient receives, including the download link, is unencrypted. It is not a big issue for hackers to intercept such email and thus gain access to the data.  
  • WeTransfer also stores the files on its servers unencrypted.
  • Last but not least, WeTransfer secures the data on servers in US territory. This means that, due to the Patriot Act, WeTransfer has to release its customers' files if intelligence agencies like the FBI come knocking. On the other hand, although WeTransfer is based in the Netherlands, the strict European data protection guidelines do not apply.

How does sending data with WeTransfer work?

Sending data via WeTransfer is relatively simple. Users can upload their files directly on the WeTransfer website. Both the sender's and the recipient's e-mail addresses are requested. It is also possible to add an individual message to the files. A user account is not required for this. Especially when personal documents and personal data such as e-mail addresses are involved, users often wonder whether their data is secure with the services used. WeTransfer scores highly in terms of security because the data is uploaded in encrypted form. The service also sends the link to retrieve the data in encrypted form. Nevertheless, WeTransfer has one or two gaps in terms of data security. So what about data protection at WeTransfer? 

Is data transfer with WeTransfer secure?

The issue of data protection and WeTransfer is relatively complex. The upload and the link to retrieve the data are encrypted, but the e-mail to the recipient is not encrypted. Anyone who has access to this e-mail can therefore potentially retrieve the data. The data is also stored temporarily without encryption - on servers in the USA. Different data protection regulations apply there than in Europe. The question of whether data transfer with WeTransfer is secure cannot therefore be answered with a clear yes. Rather, users must look for additional encryption methods themselves or choose an alternative that provides more security in terms of data protection. 

WeTransfer: GDPR-compliant alternatives

WeTransfer Security

WeTransfer basically adheres to the regulations of data protection. Nevertheless, it is not recommended to send sensitive data simply because of the unencrypted storage of the data on US servers. As a result, it remains to be said that WeTransfer does not fulfill the requirements of the GDPR one hundred percent. One way to better protect the data sent via WeTransfer itself is to use additional encryption methods, such as the 7-Zip software. However, it must be remembered that the recipients must also use the program in order to download the files. If this is too complicated for you, you can also rely on alternatives to WeTransfer that take the issue of data protection even more seriously. Here are two examples:

  • SwissTransfer 
    The service fulfills the essential functions of WeTransfer and also offers additional security: files can be protected via a specially defined password. The servers located in Switzerland are also subject to stricter security regulations. Swisstransfer is free and files up to 50 gigabytes can be sent.

  • Safetransfer.eu 
    This service even goes one step further in terms of security. Users have the option to use their own server or get their own server instance located in Germany. Access and deletion of data can be managed automatically. The smallest version of the service costs 24.50 euros per month and provides 30 gigabytes of storage space. 

WeTransfer offers several encryption methods in terms of data protection, but the question remains whether WeTransfer is secure and also free of charge. The server location in the USA and the unencrypted storage of data on site alone should give pause for thought. Users of WeTransfer are therefore well advised to look for an alternative that better implements the requirements of the GDPR. SwissTransfer and Safetransfer.eu are good addresses. The use of additional encryption methods is also conceivable to improve the security of WeTransfer. 

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