How Important is Auditing Your File Transfers?

When you send someone a file via FTP, how do you know -- and later prove -- that it was successfully sent?

It might be possible to save a screen shot as long as the process was simple and you can see all the commands on a single screen.  But what if your commands start getting complex? And if you start sending quite a few files every day, how do you organize all these screen shots so that you can easily retrieve proof 2 1/2 weeks from now. What about 2 1/2 years from now?  Believe me, I've been there and it's no picnic.

Why should you care what files you sent two-and-a-half years ago anyway?  To begin with,  it's the law½ for most of us anyway.  Most businesses are required by law to maintain an audit trail of any files that hold personally identifiable information in the data.  Still, we shouldn't do it just because it is the law, we should do it because it's is a good business practice to protect and track the movement of all business information.

How to Audit

The screen capture option is probably the worst-case scenario in maintaining an audit trail of all your FTP transactions.  It makes sense to look into better tools to manage your FTP processing that make it easier and safer to prove the files have been sent or received from the correct locations.

In most windows-based FTP tools, whether free or purchased, there are options to maintain a log of all your transactions.  Here's an example of GoAnywhere Director's job log that shows the status of your file transfers, and allows you to drill down further into each job to find out even more.

managed file transfer, secure file transfer, audit logs

Other FTP software solutions have similar settings.  Logging your transactions provides the audit trail you need to prove that you have done your part in sending or retrieving the files.  Managed file transfer solutions, in addition to providing necessary file transfer security, provide an even better audit trail by logging exactly who sent or received the files.

Bottom line: Your FTP audit logs should be easy to find and understand just in case you are audited 2 1/2  years from now.