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Posts Tagged ‘managed file transfer’

Criteria to consider when choosing the right Managed File Transfer product

Why is it important to have some understanding of the product lifecycle when selecting a MFT solution?  Feature matching is not enough when a solution will become a critical component of your organization’s business workflow.

As with everything in life there is a natural evolution or life cycle that every product will go through i.e. inception, growth, maturity to decline. Of course the length of time in each phase will vary based on a number of different factors like marketing, on-going product development, customer input and a strategic commitment to R&D.  Under these conditions a products growth can continue for a long time.

But there are some things that you can help identify a product that is in or near the declining phase of its lifecycle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are 10 things to look out for when evaluating a solution:

  1. No product development road map.
  2. Road map is primarily made up of sustaining fixes.
  3. No big enhancements being released in the near term i.e. 6 -  8 months.
  4. No big enhancement(s) released in the last year i.e. reporting, dashboards, etc.
  5. Not up to date with the basic table stakes of MFT functionality.  This could also apply to an immature product as well.  But if a product has been around for some years and is lacking some basic MFT functionality that should be a big red flag.
  6. Declining Sales.  It is easier find out this information for publicly traded companies than private ones.
  7. Little or no marketing promotions for the product(s) you are evaluating.
  8. Still using Old Technology Paradigms.   Sign a company is milking revenue as long as there is a profit.
  9. Little or no R&D infrastructure.
  10. Based on the competitive dynamics of the MFT industry, if company is not electing to employ one of three strategies: Maintain, Defend, or Innovate your product is in the declining phase of its lifecycle.

 

We work with some of the industry’s leading vendors.  In addition to having a close relationship with them, we understand their position in the marketplace, where their product roadmaps are headed and can help to steer you towards the most appropriate technology for your requirements.  Give our offices a call on UK 0333 123 1240 / USA 707 685 7705 to see how we can help with your file transfer project.

 

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Five things every business manager should know about file sharing practices

A blog written by Jeff Whitney, vice president of marketing for Ipswitch File Transfer

Businesses face a real threat – their employees. That’s right, increasingly tech-savvy employees have turned to a diverse range of file transfer tools that are beyond the sight of IT management.

Employee File Sharing FactsEmployees see webmail, file sharing services, cloud storage, USB sticks and smart devices as easier to use than traditional corporate tools to transfer files. But this trend ignores the security risks and regulatory implications of using file transfer methods entirely outside of corporate control.

Here’s five things you should know about your employees’ habits and the need for secure file transfer technology:

1. Insecure means are used to send confidential files.  Recent surveys we have run to monitor user behaviour found that a vast majority (84%) of respondents send classified or confidential information through corporate email attachments. Of those, 72% do this at least weekly and 52% daily. That means employees are using unsanctioned tools in record numbers, resulting in a lack of visibility and control.

2. Many employees use personal email to send company documents and data.  Users may think they can’t afford delays or slowdowns associated with jumping through perceived hoops to send out information and files that keep business humming. And if the business doesn’t provide the tools they need to send large and confidential attachments, or if the processes and technologies are too difficult to use, then users will take matters into their own hands – and their own email.

3. Employees are using consumer-grade file transfer services for business purposes.  If the corporate email system limits the size of file attachments or if IT vetoes service requests, resourceful employees don’t throw up their hands in resignation: they look for workarounds. And the growing popularity of file transfer sites and cloud services aimed at consumers is making it easier for business users to sidestep IT. More than half of the users we surveyed admitted they use these services.

4. Risk of data theft is high.  When business users aren’t turning to personal email accounts or free file-sharing services, they may be putting files on USB thumb drives, smartphones or other external devices. Unfortunately, our market research shows that almost one-third of users had lost a USB device, smartphone or other external device containing business or personal information – a tremendous risk for any organisation.

5. IT Management Visibility into Data Management is Low, Putting Businesses at Risk.  Most companies create and maintain policies that mandate the use of approved tools for moving and sharing information. However, our research shows fewer than 32% strictly enforce these policies, making these mandates largely meaningless. No visibility means no compliance with internal policies or external regulations and laws.

The file sharing habits of employees can be risky but is driven by their desire to get work done. The business need and IT desire to control file sharing is equally important. Fortunately, companies don’t have to choose between risky behaviour and productivity. Using secure file transfer technology, employees can get the convenience, ease-of-use, and speed they need while IT and the business get the control, visibility, security and compliance they need.

Click here to download a free report, published by Ipswitch File Transfer that provides insights into causes and trends in risky data and file sharing, ways in which IT has fallen behind in safeguarding information, plus the associated dangers and proven means to safeguard corporate data without impeding user productivity.

Pro2col are a certified Ipswitch File Transfer Elite Reseller and have been working with Ipswitch since 2010 to supply, deploy and support their range of managed file transfer solutions to UK businesses.  If you like more information on secure managed file transfer, don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

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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 set back after Java vulnerability in Mac OSX

TechWeek Europe yesterday reported that Apple’s latest Java update for Mac OS X not only fixes a number of security flaws, it also removes the browser plug-in from the user’s system.  This is in response to long standing problems with Java vulnerabilities after six hundred thousand Apple Macs were infected with the Flashback worm earlier this year.  Apple’s approach to controlling  software updates for Mac’s resulted in patches written by Oracle for Java 6.x being rewritten and distributed compounding serious security flaws further with the inevitable delays.  Apple  is now only responsible for Java updates on Macs running OS 10.7.2 or below, therefore upgrading the OS to a later version will result in the use of Java 7 which is developed and updated directly by Oracle although it too isn’t without problems.

Whats the problem with disabling Java you may ask?  Well its well known that Java is really the undisputed champion when it comes to carrying larger data sets Apple disables Java in OSXthrough a web browser and most managed file transfer software products use Java, almost without exception!  Why Java, well thats another discussion which has been very well documented over on the FileCatalyst web site and whilst Mac’s in general don’t account for the largest desktop market share, around 6.5% the lack of Java in OSX is a real problem for Mac users of managed file transfer solutions.

The resolution?  Well Apple aren’t stopping users from running Java on their Mac’s rather ensuring that they take the decision to enable it, this however is likely to further strain relationships between Mac users and the predominately Windows based IT departments.  I suspect that we’ll hear more about this over the coming weeks and months and given our focus on the creative marketplace we’ll keep you informed.

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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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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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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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Free managed file transfer software: Is open source really an option?

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve spoken with a number of companies who’ve wanted to implement a managed file transfer solution but haven’t had the budget to implement something from one of our vendors.  With more than a couple of these companies I was asked the question – do you know of any free managed file transfer solutions, you know something open source, something we can deploy on Linux?

Given that our business focuses on selling file transfer technologies and ‘free’ doesn’t quite pay the bills, I was somewhat surprised to be asked this question. However, as I’m a bit of a file transfer geek I had in fact researched this in the past I knew that there were not – the best I could find was a couple of Sourceforge FTP server projects.

I completely understand a company wanting to keep the cost of their technologies down, preferring to deploy on a Linux platform.  We’re no different and

Open Source

run a number of our mission critical systems on various flavours of Linux and have been deploying Linux solutions for about 8 years now. There are several vendors with great technologies which can be deployed on Linux – Linoma and Axway and a quick look at the price tag would confirm that these solutions certainly aren’t open source.

It got me thinking whether the open source route was something which could be explored in the same way other technologies have, but I concluded that we’ve got enough on our plate at the moment servicing the needs of our existing clients and those willing to pay for software.  Whilst open source works in some aspects of business, companies needing to move mission critical data want a structured development roadmap and enterprise level support too.

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