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No Such Thing as a Free File Transfer, Part I: How MFT Saves Time

How MFT Saves Time - GoAnywhere MFTEvery business engages in some kind of information exchange, whether it’s a small retailer attaching an invoice to an email or a hospital sending hundreds of patient records between departments. Some methods of exchanging files, like a basic FTP server or a file sharing app, seem like an inexpensive way to deal with your transfers. In the long run, however, the shortfalls of these tools will likely cost your company significantly more than the investment in a sophisticated managed file transfer (MFT) solution.

A study by the Aberdeen Group found that every file sent “for free” actually has an 80% chance of costing your organization money. In a new series of articles, we’ll break down the reasons why MFT gives your company a better ROI than any other file transfer solution. The first reason we’ll discuss is the time you’ll save with managed file transfer.

We’ve all heard that time is money, and if you’ve ever been the unlucky person manually transferring files by FTP, it’s no stretch of the imagination to think that automated file transfer software would save a bit of time on each exchange. But you probably haven’t even thought of all the ways a rudimentary file transfer tool can waste costly hours. Here are a few:

  1. Dealing with Exceptions

As with any process, your file transfers aren’t always going to go smoothly. While even a basic tool will work most of the time, you’ll inevitably run into the occasional problem which will require you to divert members of your staff away from more important projects to help get the files moving. Aberdeen’s analysis found that those who don’t use MFT have more than twice as many of these errors and exceptions as MFT users. With a single-function file transfer tool, the operator is solely responsible for checking if the transfer succeeded and trying it again if it failed. A good managed file transfer solution has ways of dealing with issues that arise—for example, the software could automatically reconnect and resume the file transfer after a problem occurs with the network.

Moreover, the MFT solution will provide visibility into the status of automated file transfers and let you know if something goes wrong. This allows you to attack the problem immediately and get back to your more strategic initiatives as soon as possible. A basic tool or script may cause you to waste hours just trying to determine what happened to your files.

  1. Upgrades and Modifications

A common solution for moving files is with custom scripts. This seems like an easy option at first. Your company has talented programmers and it’s not too hard to create a homegrown FTP script that gets the job done. The first few times you need a modification or a new feature, that’s not difficult either. But pretty soon your company is transferring thousands of files every day, your homegrown solution is severely lacking in the error-handling, security, and logging capabilities it needs, and updating your mess of sprawling scripts will cost you dearly in expensive programmer hours. Or maybe the original creator of the scripts has left the company and those hours will be spent just trying to figure out how it all works.

Managed file transfer has the features you require as your business needs grow more complex. You can trust that it will continue to be updated when necessary and upgrades won’t require the same technical expertise as creating a homegrown tool does. 

  1. Compliance Requirements and Auditing

Storing and tracking detailed audit information is crucial for staying compliant with PCI DSS, HIPAA, state privacy laws, and other regulations. A managed file transfer solution will store detailed audit records for all file transfer and administrator activity and provide that data in an easily accessible format to authorized users. If you are legally obligated to collect this information, there’s no better time-saver than implementing file transfer software that stores the data automatically.

Furthermore, compliance requirements can always change or new regulations can be put in place. While you may already have a process for complying with current regulations, MFT provides the flexibility to respond to new security requirements without creating too much additional time-consuming work.

  1. Avoiding Downtime.

Just one minute of unplanned system downtime costs a company an average of $5,600. Talk about expensive hours! Make sure your file transfers keep running even if a server goes down by implementing MFT software that integrates clustering. This means you have a group of linked servers running concurrently, with each installation of your MFT tool sharing the same set of configurations and trading partner accounts. The servers in the cluster are in constant communication with each other, so if one fails, the remaining systems in the cluster will continue to service the trading partners. With the fast pace of modern business, you can’t afford to let your transactions wait while you take the time to get your systems functioning again.

Every minute that your business isn’t paying employees to fight fires, write custom scripts, or compile audit reports is a minute that can be put towards the work that helps the bottom line. Read more about the risks of inadequate FTP implementations or get started with a free trial of managed file transfer today. 


Computing Security Magazine Reviews GoAnywhere

As you probably know, GoAnywhere is not the only managed file transfer product on the market.  A handful of vendors offer their versions of a product to help streamline the file transfer process with features that are designed to keep that data secure.

Many of the people we talk to are researching several companies trying to decide which product will best serve their needs, and naturally, all of the vendors believe theirs is the best fit.

We've been developing resources over the last few years to help define what sets GoAnywhere apart, and as a result, we've built a bigger library of case studies, added a growing collection of customer success videos, and continued to marvel at the growing list of comments that our customers make about our products on LinkedIn.

We've also built an MFT Checklist that provides a list of features and considerations organizations should investigate when talking with competing vendors. The latest evidence we have to support the fact that GoAnywhere is a comprehensive, flexible, well-supported and easy-to-implement solution that can help any industry automate, simplify and encrypt their file transfers is a product review in Computing Security Magazine. GoAnywhere Product ReviewHighlights of the review include these:

"There are plenty of MFT (managed file transfer) solutions on the market, and Linoma's GoAnywhere is one of the most versatile and secure we've seen so far."
"The enhanced file transfer interface is very simple to use, and provides drag-and-drop facilities between the client and their assigned directory on the GoAnywhere host."
"We created a project to securely transfer a large folder, using FTPS from our domain controller to the GoAnywhere host system in minutes."

To read the entire review, you can download it here.    


Managed File Transfer is Focus of IT Jungle Coverage

Following a webinar we did last week called "Automating and Securing File Transfers," industry reporter Dan Burger with IT Jungle spent time talking with Linoma Software's Chief Architect Bob Luebbe to get his take on the challenges involved in maintaining secure and efficient file transfer processes.

Bob said that he's seeing a growing number of companies who are looking for solutions that not only manage secure file transfers with trading partners, but also can facilitate database integration and ad-hoc file transfers.

"For one thing," Luebbe said, "(organizations) want employees to initiate transfers, but with managed and audit capabilities and within an authorized and manageable FTP environment that avoids security exposure. Companies are trying to lock down email to prevent file sharing and there is an emphasis to block the use of free file-sharing sites."

Check out IT Jungle's article entitled "Managed File Transfer More Than Meets the Eye" to read more of Bob's observations, and if you'd like to learn how GoAnywhere addresses the challenges of ad-hoc file transfer security specifically, you'll want to register for this week's webinar, "Ad-Hoc File Transfer: Easy and Secure."


Customer Success Story: United Security Life and Health

It's Friday, heading into a long overdue holiday weekend, so we thought we'd share a video we recently posted that highlights how Lorraine Callahan, a senior programmer analyst with United Security Life and Health, has implemented GoAnywhere to improve workflow and save time.

 

If you'd like to see other customer success stories, visit our website where you can find videos, testimonials, and case studies.


Is Your Company Letting Data Slip Through the Cracks?

data breach, managed file transferMany Americans have spent the last few days frantically searching for receipts and other documentation to finish their taxes before Tuesday, April 17.  No doubt some of those people thought they knew exactly where to find what they needed, and were dismayed to discover that their confidence -- as well as their data -- had been misplaced.

How about your confidence regarding your organization's sensitive data? As managers, are you aware of all of the transactions going in and out of the company network? Who is sending and pulling files, and why? What's the best way to manage all of these data exchanges? Isn't there a more user-friendly solution than prohibiting all FTP communications except from specified computers or user profiles?

Efficient workflow requires efficient data flow

No doubt data security is critical.  So is the ability to exchange information to accomplish daily business goals.  Almost every department needs to exchange files with trading partners, customers, vendors, remote employees, and more.

Here are just a few examples of data your company may be exchanging every day:

Finance/Accounting/HR

  • Tax documents
  • Annual, quarterly monthly reports to shareholders, investors, banks, financial partners
  • Personnel reporting

Marketing/Sales

  • Art files to/from artists, printers, marketing partners
  • Video and other content for web, publishers, printers
  • PDF brochures, proposals, whitepapers to prospects, partners, customers

Information Technologies

  • Data files to/from system integration partners
  • Database exchanges with business networks
  • System updates
  • EDI file transaction exchanges
  • Update to HA and offsite systems

Customer Service

  • Customer update documents
  • Client reporting documents
  • Receipt of supporting documents

Production/Warehousing

  • Supplier data exchange
  • Customer data exchange
  • Inventory reporting

Research & Development

  • Product specifications to/from manufacturing partners
  • Large CAD/engineering data to/from development partners

How do you control the data flow?

Educate your employees

Each organization has developed rules and codes of conduct to maintain productivity, positive morale, and customer confidence.  Ideally, these policies are documented and part of employee training. It's imperative that the rules governing data management are also included in the documented policies, and all employees regardless of their roles need to demonstrate their understanding of the data management policies. Clear directives regarding management's expectations is the first line of defense against data breach.

Implement the appropriate technology solution

The right technology tools can also be a valuable part of the data control approach.  Most data exchanges can be performed through secure email, FTP and network communications. A combined implementation of firewall and managed FTP solutions will help secure and distribute the resource requirements as appropriate for every department's needs.

Firewalls not only protect the company network from outside intruders, but can also help manage internal traffic.  A managed file transfer (MFT) system allows specific types of transfers based on users' permissions or specified events so the inbound/outbound flow of data can be better managed and monitored. With an MFT system, audit logs are automatically kept of each data exchange, and files and emails can be encrypted and secured to ease worries that they might be sent to the wrong people.

The bottom line

Given the multitude of data files that need to be moved in and out of your organization, and the need to create efficient workflows that allow employees to do their jobs while maintaining strict vigilance about data security, few facets of your business are more important than controlling your data flow.  Getting information in the right hands and keeping sensitive data shielded from non-authorized access is an ongoing challenge, but education and the right tools are the keys to success.


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.


MFT Helps Strengthen Business Relationships

Our business environment today is really all about relationships.  Not just relationships with people but also our relationship with information: private, sensitive, timely, accurate, priceless data that is literally the lifeblood of the business that we obtain daily from our trusting customers and vendors and exchange with our trusted business partners. managed file transfer, secure file transfer

Of concern is how information is being exchanged. Too often, business owners/managers are stuck in the mindset of sending business information by email and if it is too big, perhaps by FTP.  Neither of these methods are, by any means, safe and secure. As businesses grow and its information relationships become more complex, how do we know who within the office is sending what data to which partners? And who is actually receiving it? As the demand for data exchange increases, so do the complexity and risk of managing all of these processes.

This increased complexity exponentially increases the chance of some information getting sent to the wrong place at the wrong time or accessed by the wrong people. If this happens, we are required by state laws to disclose this data breach to our customers, which undermines the trust and the relationships that we have so carefully worked to build with clients and partners.

As business processes continue to become more regulated and complex, it is critical that these data exchanges are improved. Controlling and automating data exchanges can be greatly simplified and secured by implementing a managed file transfer (MFT) system. The good news is that it isn't too difficult with the right tools.  MFT solutions are available to provide powerful, yet simple ways to address these challenges.

Those companies that can earn and maintain the trust of their customers and trading partners not only through their business interactions, but also by the way they respect and protect their data exchanges, will be the leaders in today's global business environment.


GoAnywhere Director Version 4.0 Released

There's no better way to kick off the new year than with a new release of Linoma Software's GoAnywhere™ Director, our popular managed file transfer software. managed file transfer, secure file transfer

GoAnywhere Director is the flagship component of the GoAnywhere managed file transfer suite, and it's used by thousands of enterprise customers who need to initiate secure file transfers as part of their daily workflow.

Whether exchanging data with trading partners, vendors, customers, or even other servers, GoAnywhere Director is the preferred solution for our clients in both the IBM Power Systems environment as well as Linux, Windows, Solaris and others because it simplifies, automates and secures file transfers efficiently, while still remaining affordable.

Director 4.0 has added a variety of features to improve the user experience, including enhanced job controls, custom add-ons, new options for holiday calendars for scheduling, and more than 30 additional advanced functions.

For more details, check out our latest announcement, or dig deeper by reviewing the software release notes.

If you've been considering a different solution for handling your secure file transfers, we invite you to begin 2012 by investigating GoAnywhere.  Learn more about our managed file transfer solution, or simply request a free trial.


Reverse Proxy Gateway Video Now Live

Rounding out our series of GoAnywhere product videos, we've recently added an overview of GoAnywhere Gateway.  It explains how incorporating a reverse proxy and a forward proxy into your managed file transfer processes adds an extra layer of protection for your private network.reverse proxy DMZ gateway

When GoAnywhere Gateway is implemented, trading partners can exchange files with your organization without gaining access to your private network because no inbound ports will need to be opened to complete the exchange.  This feature is especially important to auditors evaluating compliance with regulations such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and SOX.

Our Gateway video premier coincides with the release of our latest white paper entitled DMZ Gateways: Secret Weapons for Data Security.  Please let us know if you'd like to learn more about how our reverse proxy DMZ gateway can improve your secure file transfer system.


Reverse Proxy DMZ Gateways May Be The Missing Link in Your MFT Strategy

By now, most companies have gotten the message that their data - as well as the sensitive data belonging to customers and partners - needs reliable protection from unauthorized access. The ever growing regulatory environment is making it more and more painful for any company who does not take their data security seriously. Reverse Proxy Gateway, Managed File Transfer

The difference between the desire to keep data secure and actually getting it done, however, has proven to be challenging, especially considering the extraordinary amount of data that is being shared among companies and their customers, health care providers, financial institutions and more as part of daily business activities.

A common approach for sharing information with partners is to deploy a FTP or SFTP server in the "public" area of the company's network called the DMZ (demilitarized zone) where authorized users can drop off or retrieve files.  Those files will often remain in the DMZ until an internal program or user copies them into the private network for processing.

Industry regulators and compliance auditors are becoming increasingly alarmed at this practice of staging files in the DMZ, because even if those files are encrypted, they are more susceptible to theft by savvy hackers.  Worse yet, if the company decides to move those file servers into the private network, they may unintentionally be allowing unwanted access through open inbound ports.

A solution that's gaining in popularity is the reverse proxy DMZ gateway, which is used as a secure bridge between your trading partners and your file servers.  A DMZ gateway allows you to move file servers and other public services out of the DMZ and into the private network without having to open inbound ports.  Because it serves both as a reverse proxy for handling inbound traffic and a forward proxy for any outbound file transfer requests originating from inside your network,  DMZ gateways keep the auditors happy and your data safe in the private network.

For more information about how a DMZ gateway works and what advantages it brings to your network security, please download our new white paper DMZ Gateways: Secret Weapons for Data Security.  Then, let us know what you think!