With a rising number of security threats emerging in the industry, it is unsurprising that a tougher line is being taken with regard to Internet security procedures. Whilst preventative measures such as firewalls and IPS systems are a necessity for businesses, there is further concern surrounding the privacy and confidentiality of data that is being shared over the Internet.
Given that the Internet is an open network and businesses transfer large amounts of sensitive information on a daily basis, it is vital to have a secure method to send, receive and store valuable data. Hackers can attempt to access data from file shares where information is not encrypted. Banks and credit card companies are obvious targets for attack, but smaller, unsuspecting companies have also had their sensitive data compromised.
File transfer protocol (FTP) is the standard method used to transfer files over the Internet, however in this security-conscious age FTP is becoming increasingly outdated. FTP lacks data encryption when transferring files between one host to another as all data is passed between the client and server openly. Valuable data, user names, and passwords can be read by anyone that can perform packet capture on the network. If an unauthorized user can log in they then have access to vast amounts of data and information, which could have potentially disastrous consequences.
It is this major flaw in security with FTP that prompted the design of Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). With SFTP, all data is encrypted before it is sent across the network, therefore ensuring that information is secure. SFTP uses Secure Shell (SSH) as a channel to transfer files across the network, encrypting both the commands and data. With SFTP, connections are authenticated to ensure ultimate protection. A connection can be authenticated using different techniques, for example basic authentication, whereby a unique user ID and password may be required to connect to the SFTP server.
SFTP is also more elaborate than FTP as it allows the management of remote file systems and doesn’t solely function to transfer files. With dedicated IP support there is a private domain to access the Secure FTP solution, which adds an extra layer of security. Whilst FTP is still an effective means of transferring files, the added security benefits of SFTP are indispensable for companies that hold sensitive data.