There are several big players in the game of secure file sharing. Some are legacy methods, while others are new and improved tech-forward solutions for businesses. If there’s one thing for sure, you can’t forget SFTP when discussing secure file transfer. Developed in 1997-1998, it provided a secure method of transferring files over the internet far beyond what we thought was imaginable – until now.
We’re decades past the 90s, and technology has advanced past the need for using SSH tunnelling and FTP commands to efficiently share information. This outdated method is not only slow but lacks the necessary security features to adequately protect client information from cybersecurity threats.
If your business uses SFTP for file transfers, it’s time to look for a more efficient and secure method. In this article, we’ll explain why and where to look.
What is SFTP?
SFTP stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol. It is a secure protocol for transferring files over the internet. SFTP provides a secure, encrypted channel for file transfer using the Secure Shell (SSH) protocol. This means that all data transmitted between the client and server is encrypted, making it much more secure than traditional file transfer protocols like FTP.
SFTP is widely used in business and other organizations that require secure file transfer, such as healthcare and finance, where sensitive data must be transmitted securely and reliably.
How Does SFTP Work?
SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) works by establishing a secure, encrypted channel between the client and server using the SSH (Secure Shell) protocol. This secure channel is used to transfer files between the client and server.
When a user initiates an SFTP session, the client sends a request to the server to establish a secure connection. The server responds by providing its public key, which is used to encrypt the session key. The client then generates a session key, encrypts it with the server’s public key, and sends it back to the server. Once the session key is established, all data transmitted between the client and server is encrypted.
Once the secure connection is established, the client can use SFTP commands to interact with the server and transfer files. SFTP commands include operations such as listing directories, uploading files, and downloading files. The SFTP client sends these commands to the server over the encrypted channel, and the server responds with the requested information or performs the requested file transfer operation.
Why SFTP Has to Go
Secure File Transfer Protocol has been a reliable file transfer tool for highly regulated industries, such as legal and healthcare, since its conception in the 90s. However, as technology has developed, SFTP hasn’t grown with it and no longer meets industry standards for secure file transfer.
To start, most new technologies were built with the user experience in mind and do not require IT or technical experience to operate. On the contrary, SFTP isn’t user-friendly. It requires the user to install STFP software and use SSH pockets to access a remote host. It can be difficult and time-consuming for an IT professional, let alone an accountant with limited technical experience. Additionally, SFTP is efficient for small files, but if you need to send a large ZIP file to a client? You’re now looking at increased wait times and frustrated clients; Due to the encryption speeds during the process of SSH tunnelling, there are speed limitations when sending large files.
When it comes to protecting your client data, it’s important to use data encryption techniques. Most file sharing software has in transit, at rest, and end-to-end encryption to ensure data is protected throughout all steps in the file sharing journey. However, SFTP does not protect data at rest. While it’s stagnant in your client’s inbox, your confidential information is now vulnerable to cybersecurity threats.
If you care about a positive user experience, fast upload and download speeds, and security – it’s time to leave SFTP behind and look for secure file transfer solutions that provide all of the above features + more.
There are several alternatives to SFTP that provide the security, efficiency, and ease of use needed to transfer files securely online. The most prominent player in the multi-billion dollar industry is secure file sharing software. Like most thriving businesses, secure file-sharing platforms embraced digitalization and have adopted the best technological advancements to make transferring files easy, secure, and fast. We’ve done some research to provide you with the best the market has to offer:
TitanFile is a secure cloud-based file sharing platform designed for businesses and professionals in highly regulated industries such as healthcare, finance, and legal services. It offers a range of features to help organizations securely store, share, and collaborate on sensitive information. The main features of TitanFile include encryption (all documents are automatically encrypted in transit, at rest, and end-to-end from the moment they’re uploaded), compliance and security (TitanFile is ISO 27001, SOC 2 Type II certified, and HIPAA, PIPEDA, GDPR compliant), and advanced permissions (users can view when documents were successfully delivered and accessed, in addition to determining access controls on a user-by-user or channel-by-channel basis).
TitanFile was developed with the user experience in mind and as such, has a user interface that is simple and effective for users of all technological backgrounds. Plans are also available for solo, small businesses, and enterprises to meet the needs of all business types. When it comes to secure file sharing, there’s truly no better solution on the market today.
Citrix ShareFile is a secure file sharing and collaboration platform that allows users to store, access, and share files from anywhere, on any device. Some of the key features of ShareFile include custom branding (utilizing company logos and colour schemes), workflow automation (setting up custom workflows and automating file requests), and mobile access. Sharefile remains a prominent player in the accounting industry due to its security and other capabilities.
Similarly to SFTP, Sharefile requires some more technical knowledge. Due to the advanced nature of Sharefile’s interface, there may be a learning curve for new users – especially if you’re not technologically savvy. Ease of use is an important feature to analyze when searching for a secure file transfer solution, and therefore better options may exist for you.
Dropbox for Business is a cloud-based file hosting and collaboration platform designed for businesses. It offers a range of features to help organizations store, share, and collaborate on files securely. Key features of Dropbox for Business include advanced collaboration features (smart sync feature allows users to collaborate in real-time), app integrations (integrates with 100+ apps for easy sharing), and centralized administration (user and group management, audit logs, etc.).
However great the capabilities are, if security is your top priority when sharing files, Dropbox falls short. Like other software (i.e. TitanFile), Dropbox for Business uses 256-bit AES encryption to protect confidential information. It’s considered one of the strongest forms of encryption available for commercial use. However, the shortcoming comes from the encryption key. Dropbox maintains the encryption key which allows them access to your personal data – it’s highly improbable that this will cause a problem, however, it’s better safe than sorry.