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Toolbox: Simple and Secure File Transfer with iTwin

Toolbox: Simple and Secure File Transfer with iTwin


If you want to securely transfer files between two different locations, it can be difficult to find a slick way of doing it in a way that is also secure. I played around with iTwin ($99), which seems to do just that.

iTwin resembles two flash drives that connect end to end. You plug the pair into your Internet-connected computer — Mac, Linux, or Windows — load the iTwin software from the device and choose a password. Then you break apart the pair, leaving one half in your computer. When you plug in the other half in another Internet-connected computer (again downloading the iTwin software if needed) you can access a special folder or directory on the original computer remotely, and vice versa.

It’s super simple, when you plug half the unit into a computer it automatically launches the software and opens the special sharing folders for each drive, navigating past firewalls and proxies.

It’s a secure transfer as well. The iTwin packs 256-bit encryption, with unique crypto keys generated every time the iTwin units are linked together. There’s even a kill switch so if you lose one of the drives, you can disable it and not have to worry about your sharing folder being compromised.

The natural thought is, why use this and not a cloud-based solution like DropBox or Google Docs? iTwin is great because it really is super easy. As long as both computers are connect to the internet and have USB 2.0 ports, you can collaborate easily and securely. I imagine it’d be a great tool for someone who doesn’t have the time, knowledge, or interest in fiddling around with technology and wants their solution simply to work.

Note that the Mac software is in beta, I didn’t have any difficulties with it but I’ve heard of others who have. I’m told that iTwin is out of Mac beta.

24 thoughts on “Toolbox: Simple and Secure File Transfer with iTwin

  1. ambiguator says:

    Besides iTwin’s “TwinTrust” third party verification value-add, seems like this could be made by a skilled Maker…
    Just curious if this is a sponsored post or what.
    I’d love to see a Make project for a similar appliance.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Not a sponsored post, just a review of a product.

  2. Keith Anderson says:

    Love the concept. Wonder why if they are only in beta for Mac that they chose to use a Mac in their photos. Seems a bit deceptive.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Sounds like it is out of beta now.

      1. Akash Nemani says:

        Yes. We are out of beta.

  3. Isaac Hagenbuch says:

    So it’s sorta like a secure server for idiots, but one that isn’t opensource.

    Given how easy it is to setup a very secure, free, opensource SSH server why spend the money on something like this? Then you don’t have to trust a cloud-computing firm or proprietary software.

    Heck, such a thing could even be run from Cygwin or a virtual-machine inside of a windoze environment if you wanted.

    Maybe my geek is showing. :^D

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to see a cloning feature, where one could opt to train a third (or more) “twin” to the same key.

    Any insights on how it navigates past firewalls and proxies?
    iTwin would make accessing my server at home possible through work’s corporate firewall…


    1. Kurt says:

      Almost sure this is how it has to work:

      Each half has a unique id, and knows its other half’s id. When you plug the first one in, it connects to their server and says, “Here I am. My id is __. My other half’s id is __. Is it around? No? Okay, well I’m ready whenever it shows up.”

      When you plug the second one in, it connects to their server and says, “Here I am. My id is __. My other half’s id is __. Is it around? Great! Start our sharing.”

      Then whenever you copy something to the “other” drive, the one not connected to the computer you’re sitting at, it sends the data to their server which forwards it to the other drive.

      There’s no way to guarantee this is secure because you can’t guarantee that their server doesn’t also have the encryption keys. They probably don’t do that, but they could, and then they could decrypt and save everything you send to the other drive.

      1. Akash Nemani says:

        Hi Kurt and dbells5, this is Akash from iTwin.

        We are working on the feature where you can pair multiple iTwins so that you can share files with more than 2 computers.

        We mainly use port 443 which is generally open in almost all corporate environments thus the firewalls do not block iTwin.

        iTwin does connect to our server and our servers help to find each other. But when any one half is offline, the files are not uploaded to iTwin servers. The servers just act as a way to authenticate the two devices. As for the unique id, a new unique id is generated each time you pair the two halves together and it also acts as the encryption key. So the encryption key only resides on the device and we do not have access to it.

        1. Anonymous says:

          Thanks for the update, Akash!
          I’ll have to see if port 443 is open here.

          So, if I understand it correctly, the online server acts first to authenticate and connect two devices, then as a bent pipe to facilitate data transfers between them.

          Nice and simple!


        2. Kurt says:

          How can a user verify that your server doesn’t have access to the encryption keys when the devices are connected? All we have is your word that they don’t.

  5. nxb3942 says:

    That’s a pretty cool gadget and probably very useful for consumers. File security is especially important for enterprises and large organizations, however, who may not be able to use this kind of thing because of governance and compliance. To see a comparison of some different options available, visit here:

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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