4 Ways MFTs Secure Files Better Than FedEx

by Tom Scearce on September 10, 2013

[Editor’s Note: Today we’re slipstreaming a bonus post in between our bi-weekly MFT use case series. This piece provides an interesting comparison between digital file transfers and those provided by “real-world” information movers like FedEx.]

managed file transfer - Protocol TranslationIs shipping a file via FedEx more secure than performing a digital transfer?

For starters, FedEx offers several layers of security and transparency – think insurance, delivery confirmation, and tracking numbers. Transfers via email, in contrast, are often unencrypted, offer zero delivery assurance, and are at risk of being modified by an intermediary. Could there be a way to apply FedEx-like accountability to digital file transfers without sacrificing speed and convenience?

With the right managed file transfer (MFT) solution, you can equip digital file transfers with the same security, safety, and insurance FedEx customers enjoy when they transfer physical files. Here are four ways MFT parallels – and even improves upon – the FedEx experience:

1. Authorization
Just as FedEx can require a signature to confirm that a person at the authorized shipping destination has received a package, MFTs will, at the very least require a username and password from anyone who wishes to access a file transfer transaction.

Latest generation MFTs take authorization a step further. With Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Secure Shell (SSH) protocol, you can take advantage of digital certificates or public keys to ensure you’re transferring files to the right person at the right business.

2. Tracking
Want to know when a package you shipped with FedEx will arrive at its destination? Tracking it online is a snap thanks to the company’s simple, transparent monitoring of goods it ships.

But while tracking FedEx shipments lets you know where your package is and when it will arrive, MFTs allow you to manage the content of a transfer throughout its lifecycle. More than just a transparent process for checking the status of transferred data, an MFT lets you check up on that data and make changes to it as needed.

Just imagine a FedEx tracking system that would let you:

  • See where your package is, and;
  • Modify its contents en route to the ultimate destination.

That’s what you get with MFTs. When was the last time email let you change the content of a transfer after you sent it? An MFT gives you more control over the content you send – and more control yields a more transparent and, thus, more secure file transfer.

3. Protection
FedEx offers lots of security options these days. From on-board satellite communication to exclusive-use vehicles, the company is doing literally everything it can to protect your critical documents at every stage of the transit process.

By encrypting every file you transfer, MFTs can also keep your sensitive data safe from prying eyes. Effective file encryption actually goes beyond FedEx-level security by making impossible to see the content of your transfer even if a non-authorized person were to intercept it.

An example of this is how MFTs assure delivery to the right individual by encrypting the file itself as opposed to just encrypting the connection. The MFT gold standard for file encryption is PGP, (which stands for, modestly, Pretty Good Privacy). A person receiving a PGP-encrypted file must have the right key to unlock it. This is like making your FedEx package invisible, so even FedEx people can’t see what’s inside. The result? Reduced liability and a minimal-to-nonexistent chance of a costly security breach.

4. Insurance
Purchasing insurance protects your FedEx shipment from damage or loss. But if you’re sending a large digital file, how can you be sure it doesn’t disappear or become corrupted during the transfer process?

Whereas email offers little protection against file corruption or loss, a modern MFT will ensure the integrity of transferred files through packet-level integrity checks and recovery of transfers in the event of transmission failure. It’s like insurance for digital files – if something goes wrong, you won’t lose any of the data you were trying to transfer.

To be sure, digital transfers best suit some kinds of files and physical shipment is best for others. But for all the differences between physical and digital transfers, MFTs may have more in common with FedEx standards than first meets the eye.

Except for same-day delivery. With MFTs, that one’s pretty much a given.

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