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Archive for ‘Secure File Transfer’

Socitm 2012: Managed File Transfer for Councils

We’ve been working closely with councils throughout the UK to simplify, secure and streamline their file transfer, so we couldn’t miss the opportunity to attend Socitm 2012; the No. 1 UK ICT event for councils.  The conference has kicked off today (here’s a breakdown of the programme) and the Pro2col team are ready and waiting to share the knowledge and experience that we have gained from working with councils to secure person-to-person file transfers and automate the movement of sensitive data into and out of the organisation.

Pro2col Managed File Transfer at Socitm 2012

On a similar note, this is the ideal moment to publically release our lastest e-book: The Council’s Guide to Secure Managed File Transfer, which is now available for download.  It covers a range of issues surrounding the secure movement within councils including:

  • How to eliminate the problems caused when employees resort to insecure, non-compliant file transfer methods such as email.
  • Ensuring you meet with UK data security and compliance legislation including The Data Protection Act and PCI DSS.
  • Providing your employees with a quick and simple way to send and receive sensitive files both internally and with third parties.
  • Automating the transfer of files, saving time and money.
  • How to regain control over file transfer processes and user access.

If you’re at the conference and would like to speak to one of our managed file transfer experts, drop by stand 8 (piccy attached) – we’re always happy to help.  If you’ve not been able to make it this year and you’d like to talk to us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the office on 0333 123 1240.

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Managed File Transfer in Action – Part 1

A well known utilities company in Yorkshire were using multiple legacy systems and 2 disparate FTP solutions to move data into, out of and around their organisation.  These systems had grown organically over time to tackle isolated file sharing issues when they arose.  As it transpired, this approach left the company with an ungovernable mix of system to system and FTP solutions that required manual interventions and the ongoing revision of batch scripts.

Utility Bill

The mounting costs generated by work duplication and management overheads, accompanied by the risk associated with the absence of failover was becoming a genuine concern.  Bearing in mind that these systems were executing business critical processes such as billing, debt management, banking and delivering mission dependent data to employees in the field – recreating these undocumented workflows in the event of a disaster would be costly.  Considering the sensitive nature of certain pieces of data moving through these workflows, securing data was also a priority.

Pro2col worked alongside the customer to develop an understanding of their processes and document their key requirements.  Armed with this information, we were able to identify the technologies that would meet these requirements, and help them through the selection and evaluation process.  Specifically, the company were looking to:

  1. Secure the sending and receipt of confidential business and customer data
  2. To further automate the retrieval of time sensitive data from remote systems to provide realtime updates of vital information to their workforce at regular intervals throughout the day.

In terms of features, the company were looking for:

  • A solution that would support FTP, SFTP/FTPS, HTTP/HTTPS.
  • A user-friendly GUI for administration and configuration as apposed to CLI and scripts.
  • The ability to schedule time or event driven actions.
  • Pre and post processing ability i.e.; archiving, moving, deleting files that have been processed.
  • The capability to report failed transfers and system problems.
  • Potential to integrate with HP OpenView for system reporting.
  • Ability to perform ad hoc file transfers manually and simply via web browser or email plugin.
  • Ability to run concurrent processes.
  • Automatic fail over to a backup system.
  • Compatibility with Windows 2008 R2.
  • Integration with Microsoft Active Directory.

Based upon the information we gathered through the consultancy process, we were able to recommend the most suitable solution to meet their objectives – in this case, a combination of Ipswitch MOVEit Central and MOVEit DMZ with the Ad Hoc Module.  MOVEit Central was specifically designed to automate a wide range of mission critical file transfers, enabling the company to automatically “pull, process, and push” all files to any platform, including network architectures, operating systems, and protocols.  It would integrate directly into their existing data workflows, consolidating their automated file transfer tasks and allowing IT staff to create/administer them via a user friendly GUI interface.  For the ad hoc aspect of their file transfer requirements, MOVEit DMZ with the ad hoc module provided a secure, end to end solution for employees to send and receive mission critical files.

This just gives you an idea of the potential of these solutions and the levels of automation that can be achieved.  Within an enterprise environment such as a large utility company, an managed file transfer solution can save hours of manual processing and ensure that all the information is where they need it, when they need it.  As with all of our customers, we’ll be working with this organisation in the months and years to come, and look forward to helping them achieve their maximum ROI.

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Managed File Transfer is for SMB’s too

Recent research suggests that the SMB sector is coming under an increasing number of cyber attacks from hackers and cyber criminals.  Figures published by Symantec revealed that the number of attacks on companies with fewer than 250 staff had doubled in the six months to June 2012.  Similarly AVG reported that it was predicting an increase on the £3.37 million of damage inflicted on UK SMB’s last year.  Verizon confirmed that the majority of 855 data breaches analysed in their Data Breach Investigation Report had been inflicted upon SMB’s.

The question is; why are SMB’s being targeted?  It would appear that the modest budgets available to small companies make them easier targets, Small Businessgiventhe lower level of expenditure on information security technologies.  Especially since SMB’s frequently work as suppliers for larger organisations, making them a more attractive proposition to hackers than the more conventional direct attack on the corporate target.

What does this have to do with managed file transfer I hear you ask?  MFT has generally been considered a technology more appropriate to corporate organisation’s – with its big price tag and grand title.  Times are changing for the MFT marketplace and there are now some very comprehensive solutions available at really competitive prices.  For those SMB’s considering how they should secure data transfers with their larger corporate customers, technologies exist at around the £4,000 mark which provide an equal amount of functionality as many corporate companies have.

To discuss your file transfer requirements, whether you’re an SMB or multi-national organisation, get in touch with Pro2col or give us a call on 0333 123 1240.

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Globalscape Hosted FTP Offering Goes Live in the UK

We’re very pleased to announce that Pro2col has been selected by GlobalSCAPE as their key partner to launch their secure hosted FTP solution - Hosted EFT Server here in the UK.  Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been finalising the offering, so I thought we would give you a quick insight into what’s available.

Hosted EFT provides you with your own hosted version of Globalscape’s award winning EFT Server.  Deployed at Peer1′s world class UK data centers,Hosted FTP Server we have multiple hosted FTP instances set up and ready to go.  There are various options on disk space and bandwidth, along with a range of additional modules available including High Security, Auditing & Reporting and Web Transfer Clients for multi Gigabyte uploads.  This means your company can benefit from the features of EFT Server, without the upfront costs of infrastructure and licence costs.  We’ll provide you with your own dedicated IP address and help you to take advantage of the numerous branding options – all with an unlimited number of users.

If you’d like to take advantage of Globalscape’s Hosted EFT Server provided by Pro2col, then get in touch for a no obligation demonstration or free 30-day evaluation.  We’ll show you just how easy it is to be up and running in a couple of minutes so you can start simply and securely exchanging files with your trading partners and customers.

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Managed File Transfer – Remote Access Removed or Remote File Termination?

Managed file transfer solutions are the ideal technology to share files securely with remote trading partners and customers.  This is what they were designed to do and in the most part, they all provide a simple interface to achieve this.  Some provide a web browser facility, whilst others offer additional plugins such as a Microsoft Outlook Plugin or less conventionally, a Lotus Notes Plugin.  However the one common way in which the majority of these technologies work is for the file to remain on a web server, to be collected by the intended recipient.  This then provides the system with an audit trail of when the file was downloaded and in most cases, to which IP address – confirming the users location.

This is great in most instances but imagine a situation where you’ve sent an email using the plugin within your email client of choice, only to later find that pull back emailyou’ve attached the wrong document.  Worse than that, it contains sensitive customer or financial data – what then?  You make a frantic call to your IT Help Desk asking them to delete the file or remove access to it.  You then get confirmation from the kind Support Desk person to say that they’ve action your request.  Great, you’re in the clear…. but upon returning to your email you see that your customer has already downloaded the file and you have the email notification to prove it.  Where you usually greet the notification with a shrug of the shoulders in the knowledge that the managed file transfer solution has once again done its job, this time it leaves you cold!

Fortunately not all managed file transfer solutions are built the same.  Some have DLP capabilities ensuring that sensitive data is quarantined whilst one vendor we work with provides a very unique capability, remote file termination.  How is this done I hear you ask, well give us a call and we’ll tell you!  Suffice to say, this type of technology provides the highest levels of security available therefore isn’t pitched at your general ad hoc file transfer users.  It’s more appropriate for those companies dealing with extremely sensitive data, e.g. data needing to be exchanged between board members, patent information, IPO, MBO, acquisitions and mergers information and so on.

If your business has a requirement to move data in a more secure manner than your existing file transfer technology allows, speak to Pro2col as we’ve got technologies that can handle the most sensitive of data.

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A Secure Alternative to Dropbox – Welcome to Managed File Transfer

Once again here we are discussing Dropbox as they attempt to minimise the damage to the company brand following the latest reports announcing a further security breach.

Dropbox announced yesterday on their blog that after hiring some “outside experts” to investigate why certain Dropbox users were getting spam to their non-public Dropbox email addresses, the experts concluded that a Dropbox employee’s account was hacked and the details were lifted from a project document.  No details were provided on the numbers of users affected, what other information was compromised or why account details were stored in an unencrypted document.

Dropbox Spamming

Ordinarily we’re singing the praise of managed file transfer solutions as an alternative to custom built, cumbersome, unsupported, legacy FTP servers. However, a quick search on Google this morning showed me that perhaps more people are now searching the internet for a secure alternative to Dropbox, likely due to the broadcast of recent security issues.

Dropbox Alternative

 

 

A business’ decision to select Dropbox or any other cloud based technology for storing and sharing company data, should be taken with caution.  Cloud based solutions in general offer significantly more advanced features than your average in house managed file transfer solution, which end users have grown accustomed to.  Why?  Because they’re developing for a single, controlled environment over which the vendor has complete control whereas a managed file transfer vendor has to develop for multiple server based operating systems and the QA process can be lengthy, thus inhibiting progress of a product.

There are however a number of reasons why a greater degree of security can be achieved by deploying an in house managed file transfer solution, here are four of them:

  1. It’s not a big Cloud brand target with hundreds and thousands of users
  2. Data is stored local to you and you have complete control over the security policies
  3. Access is securely controlled by AD/LDAP and other user group contained within corporate authentication tools
  4. Reporting and blacklisting tools mean that hackers can be monitored and banned very quickly

If you are concerned about the lack security, control, auditing and governance of your business data then speak to Pro2col.  We can help to analyse your requirements, select the most appropriate vendors and assist right through the evaluation process and beyond.  Managed File Transfer is fast becoming a necessary business tool and is certainly a more than adequate alternative to Dropbox.

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New data protection rules could come into force as soon as 2013!

We’ve been aware for a while that EU Data Protection laws were under review. The latest news implies that business may have less time than they think before a new data protection framework is introduced. According to an article published in Computer Weekly, “While negotiations continue in Brussels, compliance and risk managers have no time to waste in preparing for the new rules that could come into force as soon as 2013.”

The impending release of this new data protection legislation puts increased pressure on businesses to ensure that they have the right measures in place to protect internal data. Especially since one of the change could potential involve the need to disclose data breach incidents within 24 hours of their discovery. Data ProtectionDespite the controversy surrounding this specific part of the proposal, it seems European businesses will almost certainly join their peers in most US states in having to comply with mandatory breach disclosure.

Bearing this in mind, the requirement to secure business data will be making it’s way to the top of many companies priority lists. Brand protection and company reputation are invaluable in today’s competitive marketplace and in order to protect this, you’re going to have to protect your data. This can seem like a daunting task, but there are regulations such as ISO 27001 and PCI DSS that provide a framework and a very good set of controls to work with. Although this doesn’t guarantee that you’ll meet the new EU regulations 100%, it gives you a good chance of be close to compliance.

At Pro2col, we provide a range of secure file transfer solutions that meet whole range of security legislation such as PCI DSS, ISO 27001, HIPAA, SOX and many more. So if you’re looking to take the next step when it comes to your data security, please contact us on 0333 123 1240.

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Dropbox or MFT – that is the question…

Once again the spotlight has been turned on Dropbox following their recent investigation into irregularities in their service.  This latest occurrence appears as though it will conclude with Dropbox announcing that a number of their European users email address or account details have been compromised, we’ll watch with anticipation for the outcome.

Whilst cloud solutions certainly offer users with a raft of features currently not offered by other proprietary software vendors, they tend to lend themselves to being targets for hackers due to their high profile and wide adoption.  It begs the question, “Should consumer grade cloud based technologies be allowed within the enterprise at all?”Dropbox Technologies

Managed file transfer vendors are fast catching up with the cloud based solutions, adding Dropbox like features to provide users with the simple way of working to which they’ve become accustomed.   Whilst also adding new features such as mobile file sharing capabilities to cover off the BYOD angle, never before have MFT vendors being trying so hard to keep up with the contemporary features that users are demanding.

There are many benefits associated with implementing an in-house managed file transfer solution.  Possibly one of the most important in terms of security (taking into consideration the above) is the fact that they don’t become a high profile, data centre target.  Taking the understated, in-house deployment may well help you to slip under the radar whilst also providing a range of security features.

If your company is using Dropbox to share data then Pro2col can help.  We’ve worked with various companies across a range of industry sectors to replace consumer grade file sharing technologies.  Call one of our sales consultants on 0333 123 1240.

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Enabling the mobile workforce with Managed File Transfer

The proliferation of mobile devices within the enterprise is undeniable with tablets and smart phones becoming key tools for employees looking to ‘get the job done’.  Many CIO’s and IT Directors know they have a problem with ensuring the secure and controlled mobile access to data, but what’s the solution?

Should access be restricted completely and a ban be placed on BYOD (Bringing Your Own Device) to work?  Or should your staff use internal tools such as Sharepoint, live with its inadequacies and struggle on with their limitations knowing that its not specifically built for the job?  Or do you take on the challenge of choosing the right tool for the job?  Realistically the choice is already made as there’s no easy way in which to stop people using mobile devices.  The most effective route is to provide them with the right tools to be successful in their jobs, whilst giving IT and security teams the tools that they need to manage users, set security policy and privileges.

Some key thoughts you should consider when selecting a mobile enabled managed file transfer solution are:

Mobile File Sharing

  • What mobile / tablet platforms do you need to support?
  • Is there a business need for a mobile application or will a browser based interface suffice?
  • How many users do you intend on providing the technology to?
  • How will you restrict access to data, e.g. users home folders only?

At Pro2col we’ve been helping companies to secure their data since 2003 and securing the mobile workforce isn’t a great deal different.  Of course there are a few different considerations to take into account, but that’s all part of what we do.  We work with a wide range of managed file transfer vendors, not all of whom want to be listed on our web site but who are taking the secure exchange of data with the mobile workforce very seriously.  Different vendors take different approaches to addressing the problem.  We work with vendors who have approached mobile file sharing from very different perspectives, which might form another blog item.

The experience we’ve gained in helping other enterprises address their mobile file sharing problems can help your business too.  Overcoming the challenge of securely exchanging data with remote workers across a range of mobile or tablet platforms, doesn’t need to be a hassle.  Get in touch with our team of technical specialists on 0333 123 1240 to work out what’s most suitable for you.

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Hosted v’s On Premise Managed File Transfer

Over the past couple of years there has been considerable hype around saas, hosted or cloud based solutions – the managed file transfer marketplace has been no different.  We speak to many businesses on a daily basis about their file transfer requirements and inevitably, a number of them ask for a cloud based solution. So we’ve been speaking to a range of our vendors, natural leaders in the software field, but many of them seem unwilling to step out of their traditional marketplace and into the cloud space.  There are of course good reasons for this.  For example, the impact on existing software sales, the responsibility that goes with managing other peoples data and probably most importantly, the size of the market. According to Gartner only 10% of the managed file transfer marketplace actually relies upon a cloud based solution.  With the managed file transfer sector experiencing +20% growth year on year and the shift to cloud solutions not likely to slow any time soon, transition to cloud services could become the next major battlefield for vendors. However as it stands, this certainly isn’t reflected in the managed file transfer marketplace as there are many more software vendors than service providers.

Laptops in the Cloud

If you’re thinking about implementing a hosted or on-premise managed file transfer solution, there are a number key points to consider.  Here are a few to start you off:

Cost of Ownership

Cost is the number one factor influencing the choice of managed file transfer solution for most businesses.  Implementing and managing an on-premise MFT solution can be pricey, some of the costs to consider are:

Software – The initial software purchase price can range from £5,000 to in excess of £50,000 but once this has been paid, the solution is yours.  Although hosted services appear cheaper in the short term, ongoing subscriptions can be costly in the long term.

Hardware – Providing an environment to install and run the MFT solution can also add up, especially when you take into account disaster recovery or high availability.

Infrastructure – Hosting files on your own server can prove a problem, bear in mind the impact on your Internet connection when a 1Gb file is shared with 50 or more external users!

Support & Management

Another point to take into account after the initial go-live of a managed file transfer solution are the costs associated with ongoing support and management. Specifically:

Internal Support – If you deploy an MFT solution, the responsibility of support and management falls on internal team members, whereas with a hosted solution much of the ongoing support is outsourced to the service provider.

Availability – Generally hosted services run in high availability data centers.  Therefore, they offer guaranteed uptime with load-balanced solutions as the norm and include SLA’s.

Scalability – In a hosted environment, scalability of your product is generally available on demand or at the touch of a button.  It’s not always quite so simple with an on-premise MFT solution.

Back-up/disaster recovery – Usually provided as part of the service by hosting providers, back up and disaster recovery can be costly when purchased as part of a solution package.

Deployment

Bringing an on-premise managed file transfer solution online has its challenges. Ports need opening on firewalls, rules need setting up, plus there are considerations about the design of the solution and how it will sit within the corporate infrastructure.  Hosted solutions are incredibly fast to deploy given that much of the above doesn’t come into play.

Functionality & workflow

Typically, functionality and workflow features are key drivers in the decision making process. On-premise managed file transfer solutions offer far more in the way of a comprehensive feature set:

Bottlenecks – Having files local to you, when you need them can save a considerable amount of time in terms of loss of productivity, especially for larger enterprise deployments.  Pushing data to remote services can impact upon an end users time or can delay internal processes.

Integration – More often than not, hosted solutions are somewhat limited in the level of integration capabilities they offer.  This is an important factor to take into consideration as lack of integration reduces the potential to automate tasks and minimise the man hours wasted on routine tasks.  There are of course exceptions to the rule as there are some very capable hosted technologies.

These are just some of the key areas to be mindful of if you’re weighing up the pros and cons of hosted vs on premise managed file transfer solutions.  Ultimately, the decision will be fueled by the scope of your requirements and the size of your budget.  Whatever these may be, there is a managed file transfer solution out there to fit your business needs.  If you want some help pinpointing the right solution for you, please contact Pro2col on 0333 123 1240.

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