Eliminating Insecure and Unreliable File Transfer Methods

by Dan Sullivan


Transferring files often appears to be a simple task that is easily scripted. As a result, many organizations are littered with quickly written, insecure and difficult to maintain file transfer scripts. In The Shortcut Guide to Eliminating Insecure and Unreliable File Transfer Methods, author Dan Sullivan outlines the limits and shortcomings of home grown file transfer solutions along with business drivers that are motivating organizations to better manage all file transfers. This book closes with a detailed list of features essential to a dependable file transfer solution and offers guidance on how to deploy such a solution.


Chapter 1: Understanding the Limits of Traditional File Transfer

If you had to identify the most salient characteristics of enterprise IT operations, you would certainly include the enormous volumes of data in motion. Data moves from point of sales systems to back-office systems, from financial systems into data warehouses, and from data centers to failover and disaster recovery sites. This data moves through IT infrastructure in a number of ways. Tightly coupled systems may use application programming interfaces (APIs) to pass individual, transaction-level data. This is a sound solution when requirements demand rapid movement of data as soon as it is available; for example, when passing credit card transaction data to a risk analysis system that predicts fraudulent activity. In many cases, however, data is more efficiently moved in batches from one application to another. In these cases, file transfer is the tried-and-true method that is widely used.

The Shortcut Guide to Eliminating Insecure and Unreliable File Transfer Methods examines how common practices in file transfers undermine the efficiency and security of business operations. This guide consists of four chapters, each of which addresses a particular aspect of the file transfer problem and offers a way of mitigating those problems.

Chapter 2: Analyzing 5 Key Business Drivers for Improving File Transfer

IT professionals are constantly faced with a wide array of new technologies promising greater efficiencies, higher performance, and faster development times. Why should they concern themselves with file transfer, which is, after all, a solved problem? The truth is file transfer in many organizations is a partially solved problem. File transfers have to meet certain levels of reliability, performance, security, cost effectiveness, and accessibility. When ad hoc solutions come up short, businesses will likely find they have unmet requirements. Key drivers to adopting a more managed file transfer solution include the need for

  • Compliance
  • Flexibility and scalability
  • Management
  • Cost controls
  • Workflow efficiency
This chapter will discuss how file transfer solutions affect each of these drivers and highlight ways managed file transfer solutions can help meet these requirements.

Chapter 3: Selecting a File Transfer Solution: 7 Essential Requirements

No one intentionally sets out to deploy an insecure and unreliable file transfer system. There are no business drivers that prompt IT professionals to look for a system riddled with security risks or likely to fail during the course of normal operations. Problems with security and reliability often creep in unnoticed when developers focus more on delivering a finished product on time and on budget. This is especially a problem when file transfer is seen as a minor requirement or a simple task that does not warrant as much attention and consideration as other aspects of system design. This is a myth.

As we have seen in the previous two chapters, enterprise file transfer is a complex process with multiple sources of requirements, a wide range of constraints, and a target for security threats. The purpose of this chapter is to identify essential requirements for a secure and reliable file transfer solution. This identification should help frame discussions about design around actual requirements instead of myths that can thwart your long‐term objectives. Before examining seven essential requirements of a secure and reliable file transfer system, let’s dispel misunderstandings that can cloud your understanding of file transfer.

Chapter 4: Deploying a File Transfer Solution

Throughout The Shortcut Guide to Eliminating Insecure and Unreliable File Transfer Methods, we have considered the limitations of traditional file transfer methods, analyzed key business drivers motivating improvements to file transfer methods, and assessed essential requirements for a secure and reliable file transfer solution. In the final chapter of this guide, we will turn our attention to planning and deploying a secure and reliable file transfer solution. We continue our methodical approach to understanding file transfer issues and solutions with a structured approach to deployment.

The chapter is organized into several sections, each describing a core step in the deployment process:

  • Assessing the current state of file transfer methods used in an organization
  • Identifying business requirements for a file transfer solution
  • Inventorying hardware and assessing repurpose potential
  • Prioritizing replacement of existing solutions with an enterprise file transfer solution
  • Establishing policies and procedures for enterprise file transfer
  • Rolling out a file transfer solution across the enterprise

By the end of this chapter, the reader will have concise description of critical questions that should be answered, methods for assessing the answer to those questions, and guidelines for constructing policies and procedures to promote the most efficient and effective use of an enterprise file transfer solution.