One too many things has gone wrong: a file didn’t arrive at its destination and you’re not sure why; your developer is out of office and you need to make a small change to your file transfer script; you logged into five different tools to schedule a simple transfer. And suddenly you realize: the time has come to move away from FTP scripts.
At one point FTP was the premier file transfer protocol because of its simplicity. However, with cybersecurity increasingly top-of-mind for organizations both large and small, FTP just isn’t cutting it anymore. Why you’re replacing FTP may inform what new solution you choose to take its place. Read on to uncover some of the reasons to replace FTP or what to use instead of your legacy scripts.
Why Should You Replace FTP?
While scripts can be great, they are not the end-all-be-all. There are a lot of reasons to replace FTP – both from security and convenience standpoints:
- FTP is not secure. Data you send via FTP is transferred “in the clear,” which gives anyone with know-how access to your files – alongside any employees, vendors, and contract employees. Furthermore, user credentials aren’t encrypted, which can put your entire FTP system at risk.
- FTP is missing basic features. For example, to automate file transfers with FTP, you would have to add a second solution, which is not recommended. Overall, automating recurring tasks can improve your reliability with re-try features and limits how much any user must interact with sensitive data.
- FTP is not recommended for new tech. If you wanted to integrate with the cloud, or use cloud computing platforms like Azure or AWS, you’d have to either use something other than FTP or accept a lot of risk.
- FTP can be time consuming. Developing, maintaining, and troubleshooting scripts can take up time and put the onus on certain employees, causing bottlenecks if something needs to change – and they’re not in the office.
Related Reading: Is FTP Dead?
The Benefits of Replacing Homegrown Scripts and FTP
Alongside increased security in your file transfers, moving away from FTP gives your organization a lot of other advantages:
- Centralize your workflow. Instead of using multiple different tools, programs, and scripts to encrypt, send, and automate your file transfers, you can move to a sophisticated solution that does each of these – and more – from one interface. You can easily streamline day-to-day operations and reduce any time normally spent ensuring each of your tools is working properly.
- Automate your data movement. Whether you’re transferring 10 files a day or 1,000, a secure FTP automation alternative lets you set up file transfers and sit back as they execute.
- Meet compliance regulations. If your organization must comply with local or industry requirements, it can be helpful to find a solution that logs actions taken within the software – from user access to data transfers – so your work is done for you when it’s time for an audit or report. In addition, you may be required to first encrypt those files before they are transferred.
Related Reading: Beyond FTP: Securing and Managing File Transfers
What to Use Instead of FTP
FTP has several worthy successors that take the intent of FTP and build up the security piece. Some simply keep your data more secure, while others are workhorses that help with a variety of gaps left by FTP:
- HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure): encrypts inbound web traffic and works to ensure data integrity and privacy.
- SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol): a great option for preventing unauthorized access while data is in transit, and requires authentication between the sender and receiver to get access to data.
- FTPS (File Transfer Protocol over SSL/TLS): like SFTP, FTPS can use multi-factor authentication, but also offers two security modes to ensure sensitive information is protected during data sharing. However, there are a number of differences between SFTP and FTPS.
- AS2, AS3, and AS4 (Applicability Statements 2, 3, and 4) are each used for different types of file transfers. AS2 is typically used to transfer EDI data, and protects the encryption of messages between trading partners and vendors with digital certificates. AS4 builds on AS2’s foundations, while AS3 works slightly differently, and can be used to transmit virtually any file type
- MFT (managed file transfer): supports each of the above to ensure secure file transfer both internally and externally. Look for MFT solutions that give you central access to your file transfers, can encrypt files at rest, and support automation.
For more details about each of the above, check out Five Secure File Transfer Alternatives to FTP
Replace Your FTP Scripts
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