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Posts Tagged ‘managed file transfer’

Data: Transferring the Burden Under PCI DSS

GT News have just published a great article written by Jonathan Lampe (Vice President of Product Management at Ipswitch) regarding data transfer requirements under PCI DSS.  If anyone is looking for a PCI DSS compliant solution for file transferring data, these are the points they really need to be taking into consideration:

Data: Transferring the Burden Under PCI DSS

Jonathan Lampe, Ipswitch – 08 Jun 2010

Despite widespread adoption of Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and transaction sets in the financial industry, a surprising high percentage of the data flow is still represented by files or bulk data sets. In 2009, Gartner determined that bulk data transfers comprise around 80% of all traffic. This is probably a surprise if your company is among the many with millions invested in just managing individual transactions – but there are good management and security reasons for this continuing situation.

Why is File Transfer Still Common?

Financial institutions and item processors are still ‘FTP’ing’ (file transfer protocol), emailing, or sending and sharing files instead of transactions for a number of reasons. First, it helps hide the complexity of systems on both ends – there is no reliance and concern regarding libraries of transactions and responses related to one system and a different set related to another system. Second, it reduces the risk of transmission failure and makes it less risky for employees to send a small number of files or bulk data sets rather than a large number of transactions. Finally, it also increases the reliability of an overall operation.

The Managed File Transfer Industry

The managed file transfer (MFT) industry is comprised of providers whose solutions manage and protect these bulk data sets as they move between partners, business areas and locations. Collectively they address challenges presented by bulk data transfers and principles-based rules of the sort that have become common over the past few years – for example the Data Protection Principles or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Fundamentally, rules that tend to embody real-world outcomes as a standard. So, for example, the reported outcomes of penetration testing depend for certification as much upon the experience of the tester (who may be an employee) as upon the integrity of the network. This is all fine – until your network meets the real world. Principles-based rules tend to put the onus squarely on us to make and maintain systems.

For consumers, consultants and Payment Card Industry (PCI) assessors, this is undoubtedly ‘a good thing’. For those handling card data, the costs of validated and effective compliance represent a potentially significant burden that’s worth passing on to an industry that has quietly got on with the job well before buzzwords, such as ‘cloudsourcing’ or even ‘outsourcing’, entered the lexicon.

Vendors and Technologies Need Evaluation

It therefore makes a great deal of sense to place as much of that onus, and indeed risk and potential liability, on the shoulders of others – suppliers and consultants – as we can. Although PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) can, and does, descend into tick-box detailed level rules in some places – which it makes very good sense to sign off to trusted third parties – nevertheless, significant ongoing parts of our obligations under PCI DSS are essentially management issues. Despite subjective components and PCI requirements to take ongoing account of best practices, the technologies themselves can still be evaluated on a relatively straightforward mechanistic basis, provided that they are submitted to sufficient scrutiny.

At the most basic level, subjective terms such as ‘adequate’ or ‘insecure’ are sometimes to be understood (explicitly or otherwise) as denoting specific technologies or other standards in line with industry best practice and are, therefore, a route to initially evaluating software on a tick-box basis.

Beyond Ticking Boxes – Four Initial Considerations

When evaluating for data security technology in the context of regulated activities, you should look at how four categories – confidentiality, integrity, availability, and auditing – contribute to security and compliance. These headline considerations are designed to assist in assessing whether a data technology or process is likely to provide one-time compliance for the purposes of PCI DSS.

Confidentiality ensures that information can be accessed only by authorised individuals and for approved purposes. For the purposes of PCI DSS this means that employees should have the minimum level of access necessary to do their job. Confidentiality begins with authentication of login credentials on every secure application and starts with putting a strong password policy in place, with robust account expiry procedures and password management.

Integrity, as repeatedly addressed in PCI DSS rules 10, 11 and 12, is relatively under-appreciated and understood solely as a security issue, but is a critical component to compliance. It means ensuring the uncompromised delivery of data, with full Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA)-512 support. In the case of file transfer operations, non-repudiation takes data security to the highest level currently available by adding digital certificate management to secure delivery and data encryption beyond the requirements of PCI DSS. The setting up of alerts is a relatively easy goal – a box ticked on the route to compliance.

Availability is not explicitly addressed in PCI standards but is a critical component of any overall security strategy. It can and should be addressed, if not guaranteed, through load balancing and clustering architectures that support automatic failover and centralised configuration data storage to minimise the chance of a data breach.

Auditing capabilities should be demonstrated by vendors in the form of comprehensive logging and log viewing with tamper evident measures to guarantee the integrity of log files. For technology, security, and other auditing purposes, all client/server interactions and administrative actions should be logged.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to File Transfer in the PCI DSS Galaxy

The main body of the PCI DSS is divided into 12 requirements.PCI Logo

Section 1 establishes firewall and router configuration standards by requiring all managed file transfer (MFT) vendors to build a product architecture that puts a proxy, gateway or tiered application into a demilitarised zone (DMZ) network segment. This requirement also puts the actual storage of data and any workflows associated with it into internal networks.

The best architectural implementations ensure that no transfer connections are ever initiated from the DMZ network segment to the internal network. Typically this is accomplished using a pool of proprietary, internally established connections. In this way, clients can connect using FTP Secure (FTPS), Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), etc to the DMZ-deployed device, but the transfers involving internal resources are handled between DMZ- and internally-deployed vendor devices by the proprietary protocol.

Section 2 demands that no default or backdoor passwords remain on the system and that systems are hardened. These best practices are generally enforceable with MFT technology, but the best implementations include a hardening utility that also extends protection to the operating system on which the MFT software runs.

Section 3, particularly subsection 3.4, covers encryption of data and storage of keys. To address these issues MFT vendors have an array of synchronous and asynchronous encryption technologies, such as OpenPGP, to ensure data is secured at rest. Cryptography is almost always performed using Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS)-validated modules and secure overwrite of data is commonly used.

Section 4 covers encryption of data in motion. All MFT vendors currently support multiple open technologies such as Secure Socket Layer (SSL), Secure Shell (SSH) and Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (SMIME) in multiple open protocols, including SFTP, FTPS and Applicability Statement 2 (AS2), to provide this protection.

Section 5 ensures anti-virus (AV) protection is in place for systems and the data that passes through them. Most MFT vendors provide the ability to provide both types of protection with their software. The best allow integration with existing AV implementations and security event and incident management (SEIM) infrastructure.

Section 6 requires secure systems and applications. Most MFT vendors conform to the guidelines here, particularly subsection 6.5 on web application security. However, there are large variations on fidelity to subsection 6.6 in the industry. The best vendors use a battery of security assessment and penetration tools, such as HP WebInspect and protocol fuzzers, to ensure that their software exceeds PCI security requirements – and remains that way from release to release. The best vendors also have multiple security experts working with developers to ensure new features are secure by design. These attributes are not always easy to find on a vendor’s website, but they are critical to the long-term viability of an MFT application – be sure to ask.

Sections 7 and 8 cover the establishment of identity and authority. MFT solutions typically have built-in features that cover these issues from multifactor authentication to sharing of accounts. However, there are two common areas of difference between MFT vendors in these sections. The first is the ability to rapidly ‘de-provision’ users (i.e. disable or delete the account upon termination). The second is the proper storage of passwords: some vendors still use unkeyed hashes or weak Message-Digest algorithm 5 (MD5) hashes, both of which are susceptible to either rainbow table or collision attacks.

Section 9 is about physical access and is one that many software vendors erroneously ignore. However, subsection 9.5 is about off-site backups and is a function that MFT software often provides. One advantage of using an MFT solution for this purpose is that all the security benefits from the MFT solution flow into the backup process as well.

Section 10 is about auditing and visibility into data. MFT vendors also typically have a strong story around these attributes. Common features of MFT include visibility into the full ‘life cycle’ of files, aggregate reporting, detailed logging of every administrative action, and enforcement of specific service level agreements (SLAs). Some MFT solutions also ensure that audit logs and transfer integrity information are tamper-evident to ensure complete non-repudiation of data delivery.

Section 11 is about regular testing of systems and processes. As mentioned above, MFT vendors who perform these types of tests on their own solutions before releasing their software to the public should be sought out and preferred by companies that must adhere to PCI DSS.

Section 12 is about maintaining and enforcing a security policy down to the level of end user training. Like section 9, section 12 is another section many software providers erroneously ignore. However, the best MFT vendors know that providing fingertip reporting and good user experience to both administrators and end users can go a long way toward encouraging proper use of technology.

PCI DSS Appendices A (‘Additional PCI DSS Requirements for Shared Hosting Providers’) and E (‘Attestation of Compliance – Service Providers’) are also often used when managed file transfer services through virtual area network (VAN), software-as-a-service (SaaS), hosted or cloud providers are used. Key requirements here include ensuring that the service provider is not allowing shared users, that different organisations can only see their own logs and that the provider has policies that provide for a timely forensics investigation in the event of a compromise.

Summary

The substance of the PCI burden is an ongoing one. To look down the list of PCI requirements is to scan a list of enjoinders to ‘maintain’, ‘monitor’ and ‘ensure’, that echo the ‘manage, monitor and secure’ objectives of basic FTP technology. However, and, as the March 2008 Hannaford data breach shows, it is possible to be ostensibly compliant – to have ticked all the boxes – and yet not be fully secure.

PCI DSS compliance requires organisations to protect the security, privacy, and confidentiality of information – and to document who accesses the information and the security measures taken to prevent theft, loss, or accidental disclosure.

Click here for further information on the range of products by Ipswitch File Transfer or call Pro2col Sales on 0333 123 1240.

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Ipswitch Acquires MessageWay In Merger Of Managed File Transfer Vendors

Although I was aware of this deal being concluded over a week ago I wasn’t able to let on.  As its now being widely reported online I can confirm that Ipswitch has acquired MessageWay as the managed file transfer marketplace consolidates again after other recent mergers/acquisitions.  Its going to be interesting to see how much more activity between MFT vendors there will be over the coming months.

Here are some further details as penned by Gary Shottes of Ipswitch File Transfer.

Acquisition will pave the way for more secure application-to-application communications, partners say.

Ipswitch Inc., a maker of secure, managed file transfer products and services, today will announce that it has acquired MessageWay Solutions Inc., a provider of managed file transfer and business integration solutions. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

With the addition of MessageWay to its product family, Ipswitch will provide a wide range of secure file transfer services and capabilities, including of advanced analytics, enterprise-wide monitoring, and high-performance data translation and transformation for EDI, ERP, and a variety of other message formats, the companies said.

“When people in the industry talk about security, one of the things that they don’t often mention is that about 30 percent of the exchanges that go on between companies are exchanges of files between applications, not between people sitting at a desk typing at a computer,” says Greg Faubert, president of MessageWay. “This is an area that’s becoming more important all the time.”

“The file transfer market is changing, not only in the volume and size of messages, but in the way they are handled,” says Gary Shottes, president of Ipswitch. “The worlds of managed file transfer, EDI, and middleware, which have typically been handled by different vendors, are converging. We think we’ll be in a position to take market share away from all of those more focused players, by offering solutions that provide a more integrated approach.” The need for managed file transfer is increasing as organizations look for ways to meet industry and regulatory requirements such as SOX, PCI, FISMA, and HIPAA, the executives said. Many enterprises need a better way to show a “chain of custody” on file transfers, proving to auditors that data is safe as it travels between partners.

“What we offer is the ability to exchange files securely through the DMZ without the file ever landing on disk,” Flaubert says. “Companies can submit files or retrieve files through an open protocol, but without the file ever residing in the red zone.

“Once the data gets to its destination, it’s encrypted and housed in a secure database,” Flaubert explains. “The only way for an attacker to get into those files would be for them to have access to the physical disk, all of the encryption keys, and a copy of our software.”

Ipswitch expects its combined offerings to get traction in industries where secure file transfer is required, such as financial services, government, and healthcare.

Click here for further information on the range of products by Ipswitch File Transfer or call Pro2col Sales on 0333 123 1240

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Half a million reasons to beware!

Today was the day that the ICO’s got the power to fine companies for data breaches with the amendments to the Data Protection Act finally coming into force.  With the UK somewhat behind some of the EC this brings us closer in line with the the European Commissions E-privacy directive that the UK signed up to some years ago to uphold the privacy of individuals and specifically personally identifiable data.  A lot has been written about this subject but what does it mean and how does it affect your business?

If your business stores/holds personally identifiable data about individuals, that data is now governed by the Data Protection Act.  If your company has personally identifiable data your company is legally obliged to register themselves with the ICO and appoint one or more a Data Controllers within your organisation.  It is then that persons responsibility to ensure that all personally identifiable data is stored and distributed in a secure manner.  This affects both the data stored within the organisation but the bit we get involved in is the ‘distribution’ or the data, to third parties, customers, suppliers, remote offices or remote workers.  This data now needs to be secure & managed file transfer so that you have a complete audit trail of who sent what, to whom and when – also providing information on when the information was downloaded and if possible where they were when it was downloaded.  Simply put you need to know what’s happening with your data at all times!

ICO Logo

Why should I go and implement new systems, who’s going to know it was me?  Well you could take this approach and to be fair a lot of companies will lose data and won’t get caught but would you seriously want to take the risk that the ICO could find out due to your data ending up somewhere its not supposed to be.  The consequences are up to 10% of turnover (up to a maximum of £500,000) and public humiliation when the ICO provide their statutory reports on which companies have had breaches.  Given that the ICO have been a little bit slow in getting to this stage according to the EC who threatened to fine the ICO at the end of last year you can expect that the ICO will want to take the opportunity to make a statement to the EC when they get the opportunity.  Personally I’d rather it wasn’t my company getting noticed for the wrong reasons – remember TK Maxx?

So what should I do?  Well, if you’d like to speak to someone who’s able to provide you an independent insight into the best way to move your data securely within any given business scenario then you should give Pro2col a call as we’d be pleased to help.  If you don’t want to do anything then good luck and keep your fingers crossed because the ICO are coming!

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Are these the three main types of b2b file transfer solutions?

File transfer requirements are diversifying at a rate of knots with more products available than I care to count, but for me there are three distinct types of file transfer solutions I believe the majority of the larger corporate and blue chip customers are interested in. These are;

Enterprise File Transfer – making use of email to deliver a message to the end user that provides them with instructions on how to download the files(s) with the added functionality of tracking and reporting.  This method is great for the ad-hoc user, requiring little to no training.

Managed File Transfer –  relates to the secure delivery of files, in many cases making use of secure FTP based protocols also providing additional functionality such as reporting and monitoring.  These solutions are generally embedded processes that are not seen by the users and underpin internal/external business processes.

Fast File Transfer – with businesses needing to shift large volumes of data over increasing distances across the WAN or Internet traditional delivery protocols such as FTP have been superseded with UDP based delivery solutions, which have the ability to send files significantly faster.  With the cost of Internet connectivity as it is, WAN acceleration technologies are becoming more frequently used to maximise the throughput over those connections.

I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has any suggestions for areas that we may have missed, specifically if you’re a vendor of the solution and are looking for representation in the UK.

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When is FTP better than Managed File Transfer?

So why FTP File Transfer and what’s so great about it?  Well to be honest this isn’t necessarily a blog to evangelise FTP but more the way in which it works, lets call it ’sending files’.  With many businesses looking to adopt Managed File Transfer solutions, I thought it might be worth redressing the balance and putting things into perspective.  Managed File Transfer solutions have many good features but in the case of email based ones, sending files isn’t one of them.  In many cases the Managed File Transfer solution doesn’t actually send anything, rather it asks the company email server to send an email to a particular recipient.  The person receiving the email clicks on a link within the email to download the file or goes to a web site to log-in and manually download the file – so you see the responsibility is on the recipient to download the file and given this, there is no guarantee that the file will get there.  In fact there’s no guarantee the email is going to get there at all, asking the recipient to download the file(s).  Whilst Managed File Transfer solutions cater for the majority of ‘file transfer’ uses it is certainly not the right solution for every scenario.

FTP

So what do I mean by ’sending files’.   Well, historically the majority of solutions used to send files required a connection to be created between two sites and the files to be pushed/transferred to the receiving site using the appropriate delivery protocol for the connection method, e.g. Modem, ISDN or IP.   A typical example that many people would be able to relate to is FTP.  A user with an FTP client enters the details for the server, connects, selects the files to transfer, drags them over to the ‘remote server’ window (in many FTP client softwares) and the transferring of files starts straight away.  Once all of the files have been transferred you can see them on the remote server, they are there without question, the files have been delivered.

In contrast, Managed File Transfer solutions that use email messaging to deliver a message to request the download of the files, has several potential points of failure.  You’ve got to rely on two email servers to be happy to deliver the message and not overburdened with other requests, you have to ensure that SPAM filters don’t whisk away your all important message and probably most importantly – someone has to be there to open, read and perform the manual process of downloading the file.

In short FTP file transfer has a place in the enterprise.  If you want to be able to push data to a location with or without manual intervention, then FTP or another file transfer protocol with similar features will do.  Certain business to business situations will rely on data being sent from one location to the next e.g. a publisher to his printer, where time is of the essence and any doubt about the delivery of the data has to be avoided.

Finally it is possible to make FTP more functional and secure than many Managed File Transfer vendors make out, in fact some Managed File Transfer vendors have it built in.  Depending upon the solution you implement, you can get some great functionality to compliment this old delivery protocol and its also possible to integrate with workflow solutions, script integration and utilise API’s and SDK’s for complete integration.

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Pro2col’s on Twitter

Pro2col has been on Twitter now for a while and we’re starting to get the hang of it with over a 1,000 followers now.  We hope to be able to be all things file transfer to the marketplace at some point, we’ve got a little way to go with our portfolio at the moment but we’re talking to a number of vendors about adding some additional solutions.  Watch this space!

Twitter

As this is our first blog entry I want to keep in brief but at the same time introduce the UK team:

  • James Lewis – Owner and responsible for Sales & Marketing
  • Charles Snell – Owner and responsible for Technical Services & Support
  • Lindsay Lewis – Marketing and Office Manager
  • Bibi Langston – Technical Support Engineer
  • Peter Fox – Technical Support Engineer
  • Lisa Arnold – Sales and Accounts Administration

You can contact anyone of us via email by using our intials in front of @pro2colgroup.com e.g. jl @ pro2colgroup.com – obviously without the spaces!

We’d love to hear from anybody who’s got any burning questions about file transfer in general or specific solutions and if you’ve got any recommendations about Blog topics please feel free to get in touch.

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