Posted on October 10, 2018 | | Categories: Managed File Transfer
As companies recognize a need for a solution that meets their file transfer, automation, and encryption needs, the question often arises: what is managed file transfer and how is it different from my current file transfer processes?
At its core, managed file transfer (MFT) is a secure solution that meets all aspects of inbound and outbound file transfers through the use of industry-standard file transfer protocols (e.g., SFTP and FTPS) and encryption standards (e.g., OpenPGP).
The “managed” in managed file transfer refers to how the software can automate, simplify, and streamline your transfers. This data can be exchanged by MFT across your organization, private network, systems, web applications, trading partners, and cloud environments from a centralized point of administration.
Unlike a simple FTP or SFTP solution, and more detail-rich than legacy PC tools or homegrown scripts, MFT solutions usually include the following features:
Enterprise-level security features, like the ability to set password policies and authenticate users with LDAP, AD, and other Identity and Access Management features, are part of a good MFT solution. You should also be able to easily block brute-force and DOS attacks, create SSL certificates and SSH/OpenPGP keys, and retain compliance with strict in-house policies, laws, and regulations. In general, only authorized administrators should be able to configure these settings for the solution and its users.
Users can schedule batch file transfers to run at future dates and times using MFT’s built-in scheduler (or your existing scheduler software, if you have one). Projects and workflows can also be automated and execute whenever a monitor detects new, modified, or deleted files in a targeted folder. With a managed file transfer solution, projects can also run concurrently.
MFT often provides several file servers, including FTPS, SFTP, and AS2, for inbound customer, trading partner, and employee file transfers. These servers allow authenticated users to initiate a secure connection to your internal network and exchange sensitive files. An HTTPS server is also available for users who want to perform ad hoc file transfers through a web browser.
Advanced auditing and reporting functionality in a MFT solution will help you stay compliant with regulations like PCI DSS, HIPAA, HITECH, and the GDPR. Comprehensive audit logs can be generated for all file transfer and administrator activity, and the resulting details can be scheduled to export as easy-to-read PDF reports on completed job details, PCI security settings, expiring keys and certificates, and many more summary topics.
Some MFT solutions offer a feature basic file transfer tools don’t: a reverse proxy, also known as a DMZ gateway, that will keep your file sharing servers (e.g., FTPS or SFTP) inside your private network and away from your DMZ. Reverse proxy software also helps keep your network’s inbound ports closed, which is an essential step for complying with the strict data security laws mentioned above.
An MFT solution can be used by organizations of all sizes (including enterprise-level businesses) for needs ranging from a few dozen files sent or received a week to thousands or more exchanged a day. With strong encryption practices in place, IT and cybersecurity professionals can be sure MFT will protect their data no matter the size, contents, or frequency of the file transfer.
Managed file transfer can also successfully replace old technology (e.g., FTP solutions that are used despite the risks posed by data that’s “sent in the clear”), time-consuming manual processes like PC tools and legacy scripts, and solutions with file access that’s too decentralized, making it hard for the team to control and manage the corresponding data.
Finally, the more complete MFT offerings on the market usually have the ability to handle critical file transfer requirements for sharing large files (often with no size limitation) via an accelerated file transfer protocol, on-premises collaboration features, or even a secure mail plugin for email clients like Outlook. Having all these options in one product accomplishes the goal of centralizing, managing, and tracking your file exchanges in one place.
Need help choosing a solution that meets your organization’s file transfer requirements? This ultimate buyer's guide to secure MFT will walk you through the evaluation process from start to finish.