Posts from ‘FTP’
Ericka Chickowski did a nice job in her Dark Reading article on how old-fashioned FTP introduces unnecessarily levels of compliance and security risks to organizations. And here’s an alarming data point from Harris Interactive – approximately 50% of organizations are currently using the FTP protocol to send and exchange files and data.
Talk of security concerns with FTP is certainly not new. FTP was never designed to provide any type of encryption, making it possible for data to be compromised while in-transit. A common answer for this is to use encrypted standards-based protocols such as SSL/FTPS and SSH/SFTP.
Luckily, modern managed file transfer solutions deliver not only the security you know your business requires, but also the visibility and control that IT needs to properly govern company information.
Ipswitch’s Greg Faubert offers his thoughts in the Dark Reading article:
“While FTP is a ubiquitous protocol, depending on it as a standard architecture for file exchange is a bad strategy…. The PCI standards look specifically at the security surrounding your FTP environment. It is a significant area of focus for auditors, and they will fail companies in their PCI audits for a lack of adequate controls.”
And yet, somehow, many organizations continue to rely on unencrypted FTP to transport mission-critical or sensitive information. For those guilty, here are a few steps to help you get started in migrating away from antiquated FTP. And don’t worry, it won’t be painful.
This morning I was asked if I recommended using transport encryption or file encryption to protect company files and data.
My answer: “Use both of them, together!”
For starters, here’s a real quick summary of both encryption types:
- Transport encryption (“data-in-transit”) protects the file as it travels over protocols such as FTPS (SSL), SFTP (SSH) and HTTPS. Leading solutions use encryption strengths up to 256-bit.
- File encryption (“data-at-rest”) encrypts an individual file so that if it ever ended up in someone else’s possession, they couldn’t open it or see the contents. PGP is commonly used to encrypt files.
I believe that using both together provides a double-layer of protection. The transport protects the files as they are moving…. And the PGP protects the file itself, especially important after it’s been moved and is sitting on a server, laptop, USB drive, smartphone or anywhere else.
Here’s an analogy: Think of transport encryption as an armored truck that’s transporting money from say a retail store to a bank. 99.999% of the time that armored Brinks truck will securely transport your delivery without any incident. But adding a second layer of protection – say you put the money in a safe before putting it in the truck – reduces the chance of compromise exponentially, both during and after transport.
One last piece of advice: Ensure that your organization has stopped using the FTP protocol for transferring any type of confidential, private or sensitive information. Although it’s an amazing accomplishment that FTP is still functional after 40 years, please please please realize that FTP is does not provide any encryption or guaranteed delivery – not to mention that tactically deployed FTP servers scattered throughout your organization lack the visibility, management and enforcement capabilities that modern Managed File Transfer solutions deploy.
“My company still relies heavily on FTP. I know we should be using something more secure, but I don’t know where to begin.”
The easy answer is that you should migrate away from antiquated FTP software because it could be putting your company’s data at risk – Unsecured data is obviously an enormous liability. Not only does FTP pose a real security threat, but it also lacks many of the management and enforcement capabilities that modern Managed File Transfer solutions offer.
No, it won’t be as daunting of a task as you think. Here’s a few steps to help you get started:
- Identify the various tools that are being used to transfer information in, out, and around your organization. This would include not only all the one-off FTP instances, but also email attachments, file sharing websites, smartphones, EDI, etc. Chances are, you’ll be surprised to learn some of the methods employees are using to share and move files and data.
- Map out existing processes for file and data interactions. Include person-to-person, person-to-server, business-to-business and system-to-system scenarios. Make sure you really understand the business processes that consume and rely on data.
- Take inventory of the places where files live. Servers, employee computers, network directories, SharePoint, ordering systems, CRM software, etc. After all, it’s harder to protect information that you don’t even know exists.
- Think about how much your company depends on the secure and reliable transfer of files and data. What would the effects be of a data breach? How much does revenue or profitability depend on the underlying business process and the data that feeds them?
- Determine who has access to sensitive company information. Then think about who really needs access (and who doesn’t) to the various types of information. If you’re not already controlling access to company information, it should be part of your near-term plan. Not everybody in your company should have access to everything.
Modern managed file transfer solutions deliver not only the security you know your business requires, but also the ability to better govern and control you data…. As well as provide you with visibility and auditing capabilities into all of your organizations data interactions, including files, events, people, policies and processes.
Many customers today expect ‘WAN acceleration’ technology (sometimes referred to as WAN Optimization) as part of their MFT vendor’s solution offering. In general this is a useful addition to the MFT feature set, and can certainly reduce file transfer times in a wide variety of scenarios. However, customers should have realistic expectations of what these acceleration technologies can offer, and be cognizant of the limitations and constraints imposed by the carrier network itself.
Join us on September 29 at 1:00 p.m. ET for our latest webcast, Top Tips for Managing File Transfer & Application Integration.
More and more, organizations are beginning to realize that their old batch-file-and-script methods of file transfer and application integration don’t work. They’re unwieldy, primitive, difficult to manage, and often not 100% reliable – not to mention less scalable than the organization might wish. Don Jones, Principal Technologist at Concentrated Technology, and Andre Bakken, Director of Product Management at Ipswitch, will provide the top tips for managing file transfer and application integration in a more modern way. You’ll learn about the key failings in most organizations’ existing techniques, and look at the core capabilities you should be looking for as you move to improve your organization’s treatment of these critical tasks.
Register Now for the webcast!
What: Webcast – Top Tips for Managing File Transfer & Application Integration
When: September 29 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Who: Don Jones, Principal Technologist at Concentrated Technology and Andre Bakken, Director of Product Management at Ipswitch