When using FTP to transfer files, there is no need to perform complex conversions on files, so FTP is much faster than any other method to exchange data. The combination of Internet and FTP means that every networked computer has a huge backup file library, which is an advantage that a single computer cannot match. However, this also causes a shortcoming of FTP, that is, users cannot understand the contents of the file before the file is "downloaded" to the local. The so-called download is to transfer software, text, pictures, images, and sound information on the remote host to the local hard disk.
File transfer service is a real-time online service. When performing file transfer services, you must first log in to the other party's computer. After logging in, you can only perform file query and file transfer-related operations. Use FTP to transfer many types of files, such as text files, image files, sound files, data compression files, etc.
When evaluating secure file transfer applications, companies should pay attention to the following important issues: security, architecture, features, and ease of use, management, reporting, licensing agreements, and total cost of ownership.
Since data leaving the boundaries of the company may contain sensitive or confidential information, locking down this data and ensuring that only approved recipients can receive the information should be a key criterion. Security evaluation involves examining the product from multiple aspects, including the overall architecture, data storage and protection, user authentication, permissions and roles, administrator-definable policies, and even how an application gets the underlying platform and current status. There is security configuration support.
Besides, it is also necessary to test whether it can defend against common vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting attacks are very important for any public-facing application.
The overall architecture and design method of the solution can reflect the manufacturer's plans and ideas in the product to a large extent. Good product developers build products for today’s needs, but they must anticipate tomorrow’s needs. When reviewing any secure file transfer architecture, companies should pay attention to how vendors deal with encryption, flexibility, upgradeability, support for large files, network outages, and policies.
In addition, it is also important to consider issues such as integration and expansion of existing applications, customizability, performance, user and system management, product platform support, and programming interfaces. In addition, it is necessary to consider whether the application design is logical, whether the components can be well matched, and whether the secure file transfer application adapts to the existing infrastructure.
A well-designed user interface is essential to the success and effective use of any technology. The more friendly the interface of a system, the more likely it is to be adopted. Important elements of the secure transfer application interface include whether the screen is tidy, whether the control is intuitive, whether the text is clearly expressed, and whether the appearance and feel are generally consistent. These elements directly affect the adoption of the transfer scheme, and the easiest to use tool will most likely be accepted by the end-user.
Two important aspects are involved when managing a secure file transfer scheme: user management and system configuration. Basic user management rules include: minimizing copies of information , using existing identity and access management databases, and making automated systems run as much as possible without continuous IT intervention. Flexible system configuration and settings can enable companies to more closely match and support existing strategies and processes.
After deploying a secure file transfer program, the report becomes an important tool for understanding the utilization of the program and audit support. Compliance requirements may require the generation of reports to meet legal regulations or to meet internal usage guidelines and company supervision. The ability to monitor user activity and in-depth analysis of real activity can help identify or correct non-compliant activities and processes, and meet corporate file sharing restrictions.
License agreement and total cost of ownership
Companies implementing secure file transfer tools can enable users to send sensitive files and data through secure channels in new ways. Although this function may meet the needs of some individuals or individual departments at the beginning, the scale of its implementation tends to increase.
Firewall rules: strictly limit the scope of the file transfer
Restricting the scope of file transfer channels is the basic rule used by firewalls, but once you have designated one or several systems as your sFTP hub, make sure of the following issues:
Only the sFTP traffic system permitted by the rules can pass through the firewall; only the remote approved system can be used as the source or destination of sFTP packets; SFTP is the only encrypted traffic that passes through the firewall of these systems. Although SFTP traffic is encrypted, it is an opaque management tool, so you need to make sure that it is the only opaque traffic that flows to and from these systems. Most organizations have no need to communicate with external entities or do a list of rapid growth or system changes for the secure transfer of bulk files. So if you really need frequent or rapid changes, you may need to use some security coordination tools to adjust the necessary rules to the source or destination.
Use host tools
Considering the rest of your environment, you need to carefully consider host-based mitigation methods. Security and system management vendors have changed in recent years, introducing high-speed analysis into their host-based system monitoring tools. In particular, some have been found to be used both in normal behavior patterns, such as operating system service calls , as well as abnormal situations on the system that have the least impact on performance. Running host-based abnormal behavior detection can reduce the movement of sensitive data into unauthorized channels.
Don’t pay attention to content, pay attention to network behavior
In addition to the host, network behavior analysis can also find changes in data streams, even the content of encrypted data streams that some tools cannot see. Since they can see the number, destination, and duration of data flows out of the system, these tools can help monitor data leakage in the process. It is difficult to effectively use this system, especially when identifying the "normal" early stages of traffic; such as intrusion detection systems, data leakage prevention systems, and network behavior analysis tools are all prone to "false positives", which reminds us to judge which Is abnormal behavior. Security personnel needs to spend extra time to learn these systems or use some kind of professional service to deal with this time-consuming work. The security team also needs to determine and follow the security process, continuously improve the early warning and response rules based on the alert assessment, and gradually reduce the number of false clicks.
Be your own middleman
The most extreme way to prevent leaks is to open all encrypted traffic that flows through the relevant part of the network of equipment capacity capable of performing these middleman functions. The encrypted traffic in these devices faces internally and ends at the system, while the channel faces externally and ends at the other end of the data flow. The channel will encrypt and decrypt it. It can then use deep packet inspection tools to analyze the content sensitivity and mark it as suspicious, and then completely block or allow it to pass. If allowed, the traffic will be re-encrypted and sent to the destination. This is a very computationally intensive task and very expensive. However, by checking all incoming and outgoing encrypted traffic, the risk of data being hidden in the encrypted data stream can be significantly reduced. This can introduce their own reasonable risks, so the scope of encrypted data stream capture needs to be carefully defined and discussed with enterprise risk managers. If this range needs to be extended to cover user endpoint devices and non-sFTP encrypted streams, then users need to know that their encrypted traffic may be exposed to IT personnel.
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