Access and Feeds

Document Security: Managed File Transfers Enhance Standard FTP

By Dick Weisinger

A survey by HubSpan finds that FTP is still a widely used tool for exchanging file data at more than 77 percent of companies, and of those that don’t currently use it, 40 percent say they’d like to set up an FTP site to facilitate data exchange.  66 percent of companies say they use it on a daily basis.  File Transfer Consulting President Jonathan Lampe said that more than 80 percent of all business to business electronic file exchange are made today with FTP.  But, FTP is old.  It dates back to the early days of network technology.  The specification for the FTP file transfer protocol was first published in 1971.

Mamoon Yunus, president and CEO of the company Crosscheck told that “FTP is the ‘lowest common denominator’ protocol in most corporations. It’s a ubiquitous protocol for moving information between applications and corporations.”

Loraine Lawson recently quoted Frank Kenny, Vice President, Global Strategy and Product Management of Ipswitch File Transfer, saying that  “Sixty to seventy percent of the data that’s just flowing around your company is in these large batch files, Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, flat files, mp3s, video files – I mean you’re talking about upwards of seventy percent of what you move day in and day out are these types of files.  The only type of technology that’s really optimized to be able to move them around in a way that you can track and trace and still have a high degree of performance is managed file transfer, then manage file transfer technology becomes one of the logical solutions to brokering the conversations in between the cloud and the company.”

FTP protocol alone does not specify any sort of encryption for the data transmission.   When given a choice between standard FTP versus secure file transfer techniques like SFTP, FTPS and HTTPS, only 20 percent say that they would choose FTP.  To address the security of File exchange, people now refer to managed File Transfer (MFT) solutions.  MFT solutions include security components to the process of the data transfer.  Often the base protocol used by MFT solutions is based on standard FTP transfer protocol, but MFT solutions typically enhance the solution with a layer of encryption to provide better security.

Thomas Skybakmoen, former senior research analyst with Gartner, found “Managing these disparate solutions is becoming more resource-intensive, and offers little or no central visibility and governance. MFT solutions deliver reliable capabilities to address file transfer across internal A2A, B2B and cloud environments, while providing centralized governance for file transfers across these environments.”

The HubSpan survey found the top three challenges to companies that are using file exchange technologies are:

  • 49 percent – security
  • 30 percent – file size
  • 24 percent – file management

Similarly, a recent survey by Attachmate found that 53 percent of respondents consider security their greatest challenge when working with file transfers.

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