If you are currently using FTP and looking for an alternative that provides visibility, control and automation while improving security and manageability – this blog takes a deep dive into what FTP is, its attributes and gives you the info you need to consider replacing FTP with a better file transfer solution.
What is File Transfer Protocol (FTP)?
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a method of transferring data files from one computer to another over a network. As one of the original programs for accessing information on the internet, it was developed in 1971 as part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s ARPANET protocols and thus predates both the TCP and Internet Protocol (IP).
FTPS and SFTP
FTPS and SFTP are two separate protocols used as secure alternatives to traditional FTP. Often mistaken for each other, these are two very distinct protocols with different pros and cons:
- FTPS (also known as FTP Secure, FTP-ES, FTP-SSL) is an extension to the commonly used File Transfer Protocol (FTP) that adds support for the Transport Layer Security (TLS) and the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) cryptographic protocols.
- SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) is a secure alternative to FTP and is often mistakenly used to specify some kind of Secure FTP, by which people most often mean FTPS. SFTP is a binary protocol in which all commands are packed to binary messages and sent to the server, which replies with binary reply packets.
Why Replace FTP?
Since FTP is typically used to solve a single problem or meet a specific application requirement, it usually results in multiple discrete deployments with no central management and control — leading to many business challenges for enterprises, which is not visible at the surface. Here are some driving factors for replacing FTP:
- Security – There are a number of risks associated with using native FTP such as having FTP port open in firewalls and a lack of encryption. Exchanging information without the necessary security features could lead organizations to face massive fines in the event of a breach or a public relations disaster.
- Lack of Visibility – When sending files via FTP, the sender has no way to verify whether the recipient received or downloaded the file. If an error occurs, the sender will not be notified. Also, since FTP doesn’t maintain an audit trail of system actions such as who downloaded or transferred files, organizations don’t have detailed proof of user actions.
- Storage Overhead – FTP does not allow senders to automatically expire or delete files. Files sit on the FTP server until IT admins delete it, consuming significant storage space and incurring unnecessary costs.
- Cumbersome Workflow – Managing FTP is far from user-friendly. To send a file to a new contact, a new FTP account needs to be set up — which puts additional overhead on IT administrators to create and manage user accounts. Since users do not have access to the FTP server, they need to rely on the help of an IT Administrator to create new accounts, retrieve forgotten passwords and remove accounts for those who no longer require access.
Thru lets businesses replace FTP servers with a secure file sharing platform to distribute and manage all internal and external file transfers quickly and securely across the globe. Some of Thru’s differentiating features include:
- Security and Auditing – Thru helps organizations remain compliant with strict regulations by providing security features to monitor user actions, regulate access and secure corporate data. All data in flight and at rest are protected with encryption and antivirus scanning.
- Automation – Reduce the time needed to design, deploy and monitor complex file transfer environments using Thru’s MFTaaS solution set.
- Ease of Management – Multiple FTP deployments can be cumbersome and difficult to manage. Thru supports multiple protocols for organizations to manage all file transfers from a single point of control.
- Thru Dropbox™ – With Thru Dropbox™, there is no need to have IT set up personal FTP connections with multiple username and passwords. Thru users only need to know the email address of the recipient to send data securely.
Thru offers the most flexible alternative to FTP in terms of deployment and integration. With features such as out-of-the-box integration with Microsoft Outlook and a robust web services API, Thru easily replaces legacy FTP servers and empowers your organization with uninterrupted access to your content from anywhere.
To further evaluate Thru as a secure solution for replacing FTP servers, read our FTP Replacement White Paper.