Four Modern Alternatives to FTP Explained

Today's data-driven world is demanding, requiring accuracy, speed, integrity and above all -- security. It's a tall order to fill, and in the past, many organizations relied heavily on the legacy FTP protocol to transmit files. But over time, the security of this method has been tested by hackers.

FTP AlternativesFor example, a serious breach occurred at Yale University in 2001, when more than 43,000 user IDs were exposed and all data was carefully harvested from an FTP server. Acer customer details were stolen in a similar fashion the same year. And most recently, 7,000 FTP sites had their credentials circulated in underground forums, including an FTP server run by The New York Times.

Security and file transfers are a significant concern for IT security professionals, but what is the best way to safeguard your company's data?

Leveraging More Secure Options

As many organizations have evolved past traditional FTP, they are opting for modern and secure options for transmitting data, including:

SFTP. Also known as FTP over SSH, SFTP brings down the risk during data exchange by using a secure channel between computer systems to prevent unauthorized disclosures during transactions. Authentication of an SFTP connection involves a user id and password, SSH keys, or using both.  It is also firewall friendly, only needing a single port number to be opened.

HTTPS. Many sites are gravitating to HTTPS instead of the traditional HTTP, but what are the major differences? For starters, traditional HTTP doesn't encrypt traffic to your browser, which poses a security risk. In contrast, HTTPS provides an added encryption layer using Transport Layer Security (TLS). This creates a secure channel so the integrity of the data is not changed without your knowledge. HTTPS is ideally suited for file transfers where a trading partner requires a simple, browser-based interface for uploading data.

AS2. This is a popular method for transporting EDI data safely and reliably over the Internet. The AS2 generates an "envelope" for the data, allowing it to be sent using digital certifications and encryption. For example, Walmart has become well known for using EDI through AS2 and has played an important role in driving adoption in the retail industry.

Managed File Transfer. A method that supports the above options and makes FTP more secure is managed file transfer (MFT). This secure option streamlines the exchange of data between systems, employees and customers. Numerous protocols and encryption standards are supported, and MFT provides extensive security features that meet strict security policies to comply with PCI DSS, HIPAA, GLBA and other regulatory requirements.

MFT solutions provide advanced authentication and data encryption to provide secure and reliable file transfers. You can also track user access and transfer activity through reporting features.

Overall, managed file transfer offers the best option for securely managing the transfer of data quickly, efficiently with detailed audit trails. It's preventive, rather than reactive, which is what security professionals in today's environment need most.  

Free FTP Server and Client Helps Businesses Improve Security and Audit File Transfers

GoAnywhere MFT's integrated FTP Server and Client for automating and auditing file transfers is now available as a Free Edition of the enterprise-class Managed File Transfer solution. 

GoAnywhere Managed File Transfer Free FTPThis free FTP software can be installed on a variety of platforms including Windows, Linux, Mac OS, UNIX and IBM i, providing flexibility to organizations of all sizes.  GoAnywhere MFT improves FTP security with features like AD authentication, granular folder permissions, password policies to comply with PCI DSS, brute force and DoS attack monitors, and IP blacklists/whitelists.

"Legacy FTP servers are lacking the security controls, user management and detailed audit logs needed to comply with regulations like PCI DSS and HIPAA" says Bob Luebbe, Chief Architect at Linoma Software.  "With the free edition, any organization can now take advantage of the comprehensive FTP features in GoAnywhere MFT."

Using the free FTP client from GoAnywhere, organizations can add automation to their file transfers.  The ability to schedule transfers and scan for new or modified files on local or remote systems reduces manual processes and the risk of human error.  This saves time and money while improving productivity through reliable data delivery.

The GoAnywhere FTP server makes it possible to set access controls and generate detailed audit logs on all file transfer activity.  This offers a layer of regulatory and policy compliance to organizations currently using FTP to exchange files with trading partners.

GoAnywhere MFT is an on-premise solution that provides centralized control over data access. There are no upfront costs or renewal fees for this fully scalable FTP solution. GoAnywhere MFT can be easily upgraded to meet the changing needs of any business through the purchase of secure file transfer protocols, integrated Open PGP encryption, advanced workflows and in-depth reporting.

This free software installs in minutes and is available for download from the GoAnywhere website at https://www.goanywhere.com/free-ftp.

Sign Up for the FREE Secure File Transfer Webinar Series

Linoma Software is hosting a FREE October Webinar Series on the advantages of securing your system-to-system and person-to-person file transfer processes.  Please take a moment to register for one, or both, of these informative live presentations.

Webinar: Get Your FTP Server in Compliance

Get Your FTP Server in Compliance

Are you still running an outdated FTP server in your DMZ? Does your FTP server have the security controls and audit reporting needed to meet the latest PCI and HIPAA compliance requirements?

GoAnywhere goes beyond a typical FTP server by providing the enterprise-level features and security you need to get compliant.

FREE WEBINAR: Now Available On-Demand

We demonstrate GoAnywhere and how to:

  • Use SFTP, FTPS and HTTPS for file transfers
  • Protect files at rest and in motion with AES 256 encryption
  • Set triggers to automatically process files
  • Control access to private and shared folders with granular permissions
  • Generate detailed audit logs and reports

Register Now

3 Advantages of an On-premise Solution for File Sharing

Are you looking for a better solution than cloud-based file sharing services like Dropbox to transmit sensitive company data?

Put an end to employees using unsecure cloud-based file sharing services. Improve compliance and cut the risk of sensitive company data falling into the wrong hands.

FREE WEBINAR: Now Available On-Demand

We cover the three advantages of an on-premise product for Enteprise File Sync and Sharing (EFSS):

  • Local management of user accounts and files
  • End-to-end encryption of files at rest and in motion
  • No monthly user subscription fees or storage limits

Register Now

Join us for these complimentary webinars to get a valuable tour of GoAnywhere MFT. Linoma's engineers will be on hand during the webinars to answer your technical questions.

5 Signs Your Organization is Ready for MFT

Managed File Transfer Levels the Playing Field for SMB

Low-cost file transfer tools allow mid-market businesses to make simple data exchanges both internally and externally.  As your company grows, however, trading partners demand enterprise-level systems to improve reliability and data security. 

cityscape - mft readyManaged File Transfer (MFT) emerged to reduce the cost and programming skills required for you to meet customer requirements and stay competitive in the marketplace. According to an Info-Tech Research Group report on selecting and implementing an MFT solution, there are five signs that indicate your organization could benefit from this technology.

  1. A need for transparency and traceability in file exchange activities
  2. New business relationships mandate adherence to compliance laws and privacy regulations
  3. Traditional methods of sending data, such as FTP, aren't secure
  4. Processes need to be more agile and adapt to changing network conditions
  5. The inability to comply with government reporting requirements

MFT provides comprehensive audit trails and monitoring to document all file transfer activity. Reports generated from this data show every interaction with the files on your server in great detail and allow you to better serve customers by responding quickly when problems do arise.

When security and reporting tools are needed to meet strict regulatory compliance standards of even highly-regulated industries, MFT delivers.  These include the data protection and integrity requirements found in PCI DSS, GLBA, SOX, Dodd-Frank and state privacy laws.

In light of recent high profile data breaches, many organizations have chosen to reduce their risk by seeking alternatives to unsecure FTP.  MFT gives you the flexibility to connect with trading partners using secure protocols and popular encryption methods like SFTP, FTPS, HTTPS, AS2, Open PGP and ZIP with AES.

In addition, automation and simplified workflows offered in many MFT solutions streamline the process of adding and onboarding trading partners. Companies can reduce or eliminate time spent on manual file exchanges and interrupted file transfers, thus reducing administrative costs and assuring the timely delivery of mission-critical data.

To explore MFT further, download this useful checklist to help in your evaluation of vendors and find the best solution for your organization.

GoAnywhere Managed File Transfer 5.0 Released with Unified Interface and Advanced Reporting

Linoma Software unveils GoAnywhere MFT (Managed File Transfer), version 5.0 of its GoAnywhere secure file transfer software. The upgrade combines the workflow automation capabilities of Linoma's popular GoAnywhere Director solution with secure file transfer protocol (FTP) features from GoAnywhere Services into a single product. In addition, the merged product adds numerous significant enhancements. 

GoAnywhere Managed File Transfer 5.0 Unified Interface DashboardGoAnywhere MFT 5.0 introduces a brand new and customizable browser-based dashboard with more than 20 gadgets providing statistics, graphs, and details of file transfer activity and critical system information. Each administrator has their own personal dashboard, and can arrange informative gadgets to quickly monitor the activity most important to them.

The upgrade delivers advanced Reporting features that include various PDF reports that cover system information and file-transfer activity with details and graphs.  A Security Settings Audit report will analyze a GoAnywhere MFT server's security settings to determine compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) requirements. The report also suggests actions needed to remedy the settings that are non-compliant.

GoAnywhere continues to provide individual audit logs for job activity, triggers, and file transfers (SFTP and FTP/s, HTTP/s, AS2). The product's new version improves logging by sending the individual log events to a global index for faster, system-wide search results.  The new Global Search can be used to quickly find events for a particular file name, a specific user name or a wide variety of 'Google' like search criteria.

Licensing for GoAnywhere MFT has been revamped allowing Linoma to offer a completely free FTP server, including functions to automate FTP transfers. Every edition of GoAnywhere MFT also includes 10 free user accounts for GoDrive, the on-premise enterprise file synchronization and sharing solution.

GoAnywhere MFT now features the ability to use Internet Content Adaptation Protocol (ICAP) servers as Resources and Tasks to integrate antivirus and DLP (data loss prevention) solutions in your workflows. Customers can scan files for sensitive data and viruses to stop harmful file transfers before they are sent.

Existing customers of GoAnywhere will need to register on the GoAnywhere Customer Portal at my.goanywhere.com to request a new license before installing the upgrade.

To download the software or learn more about the enhancements and features of GoAnywhere MFT 5.0, visit GoAnywhere.com.

GoAnywhere customers rewarded for sharing

We hear a lot from our customers about how much they love the GoAnywhere suite of managed file transfer products. From how much time and money they save by automating processes to becoming more efficient and able to attend other tasks, customer feedback is what inspires us to continue innovating and making our products even better.

From the GoAnywhere Mailbag:

"If I ever go to work for another company, I'm not going to accept unless they agree to purchase GoAnywhere Director."

"GoAnywhere works. We have had ZERO problems with it, which is not something you can say about very many products.

It's gratifying to know that our customers enjoy GoAnywhere as much as we do. The amount of new customers referred from current GoAnywhere customers is a testament to how much they believe in our managed file transfer software and how it's often a game changer for businesses. As our way of saying Thank You, Linoma Software has created a referral program to reward our great customers for sharing their recommendations and GoAnywhere experience with others.

"How do they [GoAnywhere] make any money with the low cost and incredible support they provide?"

"Definitely buy GoAnywhere. It will be the easiest implementation...the best value of software that you've ever had"

To participate, GoAnywhere customers can simply fill out an easy online form when they refer our products to others. They will be rewarded with $500 if the person or company they referred purchases GoAnywhere! It's that simple and there is no limit to the number of people or companies they can refer.

It's our way of saying Thank You to all the people and companies we love working with. If you are a GoAnywhere customer, be sure to enjoy the rewards of our referral program starting today! For additional information or to fill out our referral form, please visit our GoAnywhere Referral Program page. You can learn more about GoAnywhere and our customer experiences in their own words by visiting our Testimonials page or viewing our Customer Review Videos.

SFTP vs FTPS - Best Solution for Secure FTP (Infographic)

With large data breaches recently taking center stage in the media, many businesses have begun paying close attention to internal practices and taking action to improve internal systems and processes. As a result, an increasing number of businesses (people) who rely on data transfers are looking to move away from standard FTP in favor of a more secure method.

We are often asked about the key differences between SFTP and FTPS. There are potential pros and cons with each method, which is why businesses should weigh the differences carefully to determine what option would serve them best.

Over the years, we have tried explaining SFTP vs FTPS in a variety of ways. Between lists and charts and drawings, we found that most people were easily able to comprehend unique aspects of each transfer protocol when it was presented visually.

We created the following infographic to highlight the positives and negatives of using SFTP vs FTPS. You can also view the original blog post for a more detailed comparison.

sftp vs ftps infographic  

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Managed File Transfer 101: What's in it for Me?

managed file transfer 101 - fileTransferGroupThe term MFT (Managed File Transfer) is not new but you may be hearing it more frequently.  Changes in data security and transmission regulations have brought this established technology to the forefront, but what exactly does it entail? Linoma Software recently hosted "Managed File Transfer 101", a webinar to present the essentials of MFT and what you should look for when researching an MFT solution for your organization.

Current State of File Transfer

In the presentation, Bob Luebbe, chief architect of Linoma Software, talked about the existing challenges of file transfer:

  • Old technology - such as Standard FTP - is still in use despite limitations and risks posed by data "sent in the clear".
  • Time consuming manual processes that might include the use of PC tools.  Scripts are also a legacy of old processes that continue to saddle IT departments.  Programmers create and maintain these scripts - often hundreds or thousands - to automate transfers.
  • File access is often too decentralized, making it difficult to control and manage.  Compliance has become more stringent in data management.
  • Lack of notifications critical to insure successful data movement, rather than waiting for a partner to notice missing or incomplete transfers.  Traditional logs can be helpful but are also hard to find and filter for adequate audit trails.  The big issue is meeting data privacy regulations (e.g., PCI-DSS, HIPAA, GLBA and SOX) without centralized logs.
  • Employees are still sending files unchecked.  Without a simple and secure alternative, employees find their own solutions for file portability to maintain productivity.

managed file transfer 101 - 58percent_send_to_wrong_personThis final point often involves employees storing sensitive files on their PCs and laptops, sending documents through email, and utilizing cloud storage providers - like Dropbox - without proper controls in place.  If a company doesn't have internal policies in place to address file sharing and transfers, the liability risk can be severe. In a 2013 study by Stroz Friedberg on Information Security in American Business, it was found that 3 out of 4 office workers upload work files to their personal email or cloud account.  Of this group, 37% said it was because they prefer using their personal computer while 14% said it's because taking their work laptop home was simply too much effort. The same survey highlighted the role of senior managers in an organization's data risk.  Often the worst offenders, 58% admitted to accidently sending sensitive information to the wrong person. Just over half also admitted to taking files with them after leaving a job. While MFT won't put a stop to this practice, a workflow built on the secure storage of sensitive business documents will add transparency to file access activity.

What is Managed File Transfer?

File Transfers, in their basic form, involve the sharing of files with others through FTP, email or a cloud solution.  In contrast, Managed File Transfer takes a centralized enterprise-level approach to automating and securing file transfers.  This produces a secured, scheduled and trackable file transfer. By creating transparency within your organization, files are tracked and logged as they enter and leave your network.  MFT is a smart solution for companies who understand the liability and risk involved in transmitting sensitive data.

  • Keep files safe and secure
  • Make sure files go where they are needed, when they are needed
  • Track files from start to finish for compliance purposes

To see what MFT looks like in a real world example, the team at Linoma would be happy to schedule a live demo of the GoAnywhere Suite.  You can also click here to view the entire webinar for free. Discover how simple and affordable it can be to utilize an MFT solution in your organization.

SFTP Server in the DMZ or Private Network

Many organizations have an SFTP server installed where their trading partners can connect to securely upload and download sensitive files.

SFTP Server in the DMZ

Traditionally SFTP Servers have been installed in the DMZ (or public facing) segment of the network since organizations were fearful of opening inbound ports into the Private (internal) network.

sftp server - DMZ

Keeping the SFTP Server in the DMZ, however, has posed several problems. The primary issue is that files have to be stored in the DMZ when they are dropped off by partners, or otherwise staged temporarily for pickup. Those staged files have a higher risk of being accessed by hackers since the DMZ is more exposed to the Internet. You could require those staged files to be encrypted with something like Open PGP, but many auditors don't like to see any sensitive files in the DMZ, encrypted or not. Another issue is that you often have to write scripts to copy the files back and forth between the DMZ and private network, which takes programmer effort and can lead to errors.

SFTP Server in the Private Network

To keep sensitive files out of the DMZ, some organizations have moved their SFTP server into the private network.

sftp server - private network

This approach eliminates the need to write scripts for moving files back and forth. The big downfall of this approach is that ports were traditionally opened into the private network for trading partners to gain access to the SFTP server. These open ports could create a potential risk for attackers to gain access to the private network. In today's security-conscious environment, most IT auditors do not like to see any inbound ports opened into the private network... especially if you are storing sensitive PCI or HIPAA data on those servers.

Gateway in the DMZ while keeping the SFTP Server in the Private Network

An approach that is quickly gaining in popularity is to implement a gateway component in the DMZ. The gateway will serve as an enhanced reverse proxy which does not require inbound ports into the private network.

sftp server - gateway

At startup time, the SFTP server will establish a special control channel with the gateway, which is kept alive continuously. When partners connect to the gateway, it will make requests over the existing control channel to the SFTP server. The SFTP server will then open any data channels needed back through the gateway to service the trading partners. The whole process is transparent to the trading partners. No data is ever stored in the DMZ since it is simply streamed through the gateway.

A gateway in the DMZ therefore solves two major security issues:

  1. No files need to be stored in the DMZ, including user credentials
  2. No inbound ports need to be opened into the Private network

Since a proprietary control channel is used to communicate between the gateway and the SFTP server, you will need to purchase both components from a single vendor. When looking for the right gateway for your organization, make sure it is easy to set up and manage. It is critical that it does not require inbound ports into the private network or require any data to be stored in the DMZ.

Contact a Linoma Software representative today to learn more about an enhanced reverse proxy solution on your network.

Why Bother Upgrading Beyond Standard FTP?

Right out of the box, most operating systems come with a built-in File Transfer Protocol (FTP) tool that makes it possible to transfer large files between people, computers and servers. It accomplishes the key goal, which is to deliver the file from one place to another. However, too many organizations' philosophy has been that as long as the files were getting where they needed to go, standard FTP was good enough. That was especially true when they were transferring files internally.

The truth is that FTP alone has never been good enough, because too much information (file data, user names, passwords, etc.) is vulnerable to hackers and it only takes fairly rudimentary hacking skills to steal it. Now with increased pressure to protect sensitive data coming from regulators and consumers, it's urgent that companies implement a more secure file transfer method.

Take a look at this short video to hear Bob Luebbe, Linoma Software's Chief Architect, talk about the dangers of standard FTP.



At the end of this video, Bob mentions the value of clustering and load balancing to promote high active-active availability. Since this video was produced, we've also added these features to both GoAnywhere Services and GoAnywhere Director.