Internet Security and Your Business: Why Does the Type of File Transfer Software You Use Matter?

Compliance with data storage rules in a digital environment is challenging to say the least. Various state and federal rules, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, have very strict requirements for personal information, such as medical diagnosis information, payment data, and personal information. The fines for noncompliance are very high.

But there’s more. A data breach has commercial fallout that sometimes exceeds the civil or criminal penalties. Most customers won’t want to do business with most businesses that fail to protect their information. The damage to your reputation could be immense. At the same time, your secure file transfer system must be user-friendly and accessible. Depending on the types of users and customers that your organization has, these needs could be overriding.

Since so much is at stake, it’s important to be familiar with the different types of secure file transfer protocols.

FTPS

Secure File Transfer Protocol is one of the most basic forms of secure file transfer. Basic FTP goes back to the early days of networked computers in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s ideal for both large, bulk transfers and single file movements. FTPS is very flexible and easy to use.

FTPS is not very compatible with certain firewalls, so check it out before you commit. Moreover, without an encryption add-on, FTPS is not really very secure. Highly-regulated industries, like legal and medical offices, definitely need the added protection.

Some FTPS variations include the firewall-friendly SFTP and the somewhat older SCP. Like the mother file transfer program, these offshoots are very easy to use but a little light on security.

Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning

Whereas FTPS simply facilitates file transfer, WebDAV allows secure file collaboration, mostly using HTTPS (a secure website). If your workers are not all at the same location, and they usually are not, and file security is important, WebDAV is usually a good option. Universities and research institutions use this file system a lot.

WebDAV is available with a Secure Socket Link (SSL) add-on. WebDAVS is a lot more secure and only marginally more difficult to use.

TFTP

Trivial File Transfer Protocol is not technically a file transfer system, since it cannot move files outside a network. SInce it has few security protocols, that’s probably a good thing. However, TFTP is very good for internal file movement and network management chores. Many organizations use TFTP, especially if they have lots of data on their networks.

AS2

Applicability Statement 2 is specifically designed for B2B environments. It’s extremely robust, which is why AS2 has recently spread from retail and industrial use to businesses that have serious HIPAA compliance issues. Moreover, AS2 easily handles EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) transfers.

AFTP

Far-flung workforces, like those which are common in many internet-based companies, often have network issues. So, network reliability is an issue as well. Accelerated File Transfer Protocol overcomes a lot of these problems. Film companies use AFTP quite a bit.

To choose the right file transfer protocol, begin by balancing your need for security against your need for an accessible system. Then, carefully consider the other pros and cons.

Image: Lukas

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