Most chief executive officers would have no time to scrutinize their organization's file transfer activities. That's bound to change once they start asking these 5 simple questions.
1. Are we securing file transfers that involve sensitive information?
These days, a good fraction of the information your company sends and receives through the Internet are supposed to be kept confidential. Intellectual property, trade secrets, personal data, financial statements, supplier price lists, credit card information, senior management salaries, and sales figures, are just some of the types of information that shouldn't fall into the wrong hands.
What is your company doing to secure them?
Are you transmitting these types of data through secure methods? For instance, are you using encrypted file transfer protocols that protect the data from people who might be eavesdropping on your network? Are you employing strong authentication methods that ensure you're exchanging information with the right parties? Are you even employing data integrity mechanisms that can determine if the data you receive was altered along the way?
How about your end users? Have you been able to restrict their file sharing activities to applications that are being monitored by IT? Or are they sending files through insecure channels like rogue FTP servers and unmonitored consumer cloud solutions?
Because of the variety of threats that now lurk in the dark corners of the Internet, your company should be well-equipped to counter them. I'm sure you'll want to minimize the risk of a data breach and avoid nasty lawsuits, a damaged reputation, and loss of customer confidence.
If you still have time to spare and want to know what characterizes a secure file transfer, I suggest you read:
or browse through our vast collection of articles on the subject:
2. How compliant are we with laws and regulations that impact data exchanges?
Whether you like it or not, you're living in an era where the number of laws and regulations that impact the way you handle data is steadily growing and getting more stringent. Some of them, like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, can even hold you, the CEO, accountable for certain violations.
That's why you need to be more engaged in risk management and regulatory compliance initiatives. You need to work more closely with your compliance officer and make sure he gets the needed support from the top.
Some legislations have specific security requirements for data-in-transit. Is your file transfer system capable of meeting them? How capable? Does your IT department have to stitch together disparate technologies to meet the requirements? If so, aren't your IT staff getting overloaded and losing focus on other important matters? If this is the case, you might want to consider trying a solution that can already satisfy several regulatory requirements.
If you have time later, check out these two articles that discuss specific data transfer-related regulatory requirements found in healthcare and the payment card industry. These guides also talk about ways to meet those requirements. Even if you don't belong to either industry, you should find the discussions pretty enlightening.
3. How interoperable are we with trading partners?
Interoperability issues can hamper B2B data exchanges and adversely affect supply chain processes. And if you're dealing with many different suppliers and other trading partners (especially if they're located in other countries), there's always a good chance you'll run into some interoperability issues.
One way to address this type of problem is to transact through EDI (electronic data interchange). If your trading partner also supports EDI, then they'll likely be using some widely accepted, EDI-capable data transfer protocol like AS2 (for USA-based companies) or OFTP (for Europe-based companies). Does your file transfer system support these protocols?
Of course, not all businesses have started using EDI. Some organizations still exchange files through FTP, FTPS, SFTP, HTTP, HTTPS, or some commonly used, general-purpose protocol. In order to transact with all these companies (both those using EDI and those who don't), you should be able to support all these protocols. You can do that by either deploying different solutions or a single application that already supports all major file transfer protocols.
4. Can we meet business demands on time, every time?
Business processes are increasingly becoming more time-sensitive. Not only because of the growing need to beat the competition to the market, but also because other companies down the supply chain demand it.
What is your company doing to meet those demands? Surely not through methods that require considerable human intervention? High-volume B2B data exchanges are now mostly carried out over automated server-to-server file transfer configurations. Does your company have that capability? If not, maybe it's time you started working to have it.
In case you're still on the fence as to whether this is something you need now, better check these out:
While fast, seamless data transmissions are crucial to modern business processes, equally important is data availability. How resilient are your file transfer systems to disruptions? Is it capable of providing high availability services?
5. Are we even addressing the file transfer needs of our employees?
The people in your organization need to exchange files with other parties too. They need to exchange files with colleagues, business counterparts, customers contacts, supplier contacts, corporate legal counsel, regulatory officers, external auditors, and other parties.
Some of the files they send likely contain sensitive information. If so, you can't risk having them send it via insecure but highly popular channels like regular email and mobile applications. It would be better to let them course their file exchanges through a centrally managed server that's administered and monitored by your information security staff.
But what if they insist on using the tools they've already grown accustomed to? Sometimes, if you force people to use secure tools they're not familiar with, they'll find a way to circumvent them. That can lead to dire consequences because you will have a false sense of security (believing you've enforced a security policy, when in reality you haven't).
Wouldn't it be better to have the best of both worlds? If that's possible, why not, right? In this case, it is. Learn about ad hoc file transfers.
There's one solution that can:
- Support secure file transfers;
- Satisfy data transfer-related regulatory requirements;
- Achieve a high level of interoperability;
- Meet business demands on time, every time; and
- Address the file transfer needs of end users
It's called JSCAPE MFT Server. Download a free, fully-functional evaluation edition now.