What Is Secure File Transfer?

Secure file transfer is the result of incorporating a combination of security measures, including encryption, authentication, access controls and auditing, to protect file-based data shared within or between enterprise networks.

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Secure File Transfer Protocols

Businesses share sensitive files using common protocols such as Secure File Transfer Protocol or SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), HTTP over SSL (HTTPS) and File Transfer Protocol over SSL/TLS 1.2/1.3 (FTPS). Therefore, a secure file transfer solution needs to be protocol-agnostic, meaning it can exchange a variety of files, internally or externally, regardless of transfer protocol, file type or file size.


SFTP is a secure file transfer protocol that uses SSH to encrypt files. The connection is encrypted before any files are transferred. SFTP is one of the most used protocols for file transfers.


HTTPS uses the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol to encrypt files. Recipients can download files directly from a web browser. HTTPS file transfers are handled by our Thru Node, which is a lightweight managed file transfer (MFT) agent.


Like HTTPS, FTPS uses the TLS protocol to encrypt files. FTPS has two modes: one explicit and one implicit. Administrators choose between the modes based on their security requirements and partners’ requirements.

Methods of Encrypting File Transfers

For complete end-to-end protection of sensitive or personal information, files are encrypted at the file level in addition to using encrypted protocols during transit and storage encryption at rest.

File Payload Encryption

How are file payloads secured?

Encrypt files all the way to its destination using the OpenPGP standard, based on Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) software. Thru’s MFT solution supports customer creation, import and management of keys and tokens.

Data Encryption in Transit

How is data in transit secured?

Encrypted protocols provide an additional level of defense when transferring files. Secure files in transit using SFTP, FTPS and HTTPS.

Data Encryption at Rest

How is data at rest secured in the cloud?

All files stored in Thru cloud platform are encrypted by AES 256-bit FIPS-compliant encryption with redundant and transparent policy and cryptographic key management.

How SFTP and MFT Work Together to Deliver Files

SFTP has become synonymous with secure file transfer. SFTP servers are ubiquitously used by organizations to exchange files with partners. Relying just on SFTP alone may be adequate for some types of file transfers, but sensitive, business-critical file transactions require additional enterprise-grade protection, control and visibility.

An MFT solution enhances secure file sharing by providing this required functionality. MFT is a file transfer system that utilizes multiple protocols including SFTP and is able to act as a client or server to enable push or pull connectivity between the MFT system and its endpoints. Readily available capabilities of MFT include comprehensive end-to-end security; tracking, logging and retention settings; and high availability.

Best Solution to Secure File Transfers

Many MFT solutions are available, so look for a comprehensive solution with core functionality including

  • End-to-end encryption to protect sensitive information.
  • Advanced authentication to validate identities of users—human, application and system.
  • Role-based access controls (RBAC) to prevent unauthorized users from modifying endpoints or workflows.
  • Multiple endpoints to programmatically transfer files.

Compliance and Standards

Depending on specifics of corporate governance or security requirements, deploy MFT in our cloud or in your virtual private cloud in Azure or AWS.

Compliance »

Data Center & Application

Mitigate security breaches and protect files from potential threats at every level along every step in the transfer.

Cloud & Application Security »

Automated File Transfers

Schedule or automatically transfer files within the enterprise network, outside its network or to/from an integration platform.

Automation »

FAQs about Secure File Transfer

What is the difference between FTP and MFT for secure file transfers?

If an IT team uses on-premises FTP servers, they cannot easily see which files were delivered or resolve issues. Managed file transfer solutions provide one place to manage and monitor secure file transfers. Read more about the differences between MFT and FTP »

What is the most secure file transfer protocol?

SFTP, FTPS and HTTPS protocols are relatively equal in security, but SFTP is the most secure file transfer protocol. SFTP is the most secure because the connection is encrypted from the beginning. The FTPS protocol uses too many ports for file transfer and HTTPS was not built for file transfer. See why SFTP, FTPS and HTTPS are more secure »

What is a secure file transfer gateway?

A secure file transfer gateway is used by on-premises file transfer systems for external file transfer. It sits outside of the enterprise local area network (LAN) in the demilitarized zone (DMZ). See more about what it is and its disadvantages »

What is the best way to send files securely?

Send and share encrypted files and attachments from existing business applications and devices with Thru. See how to securely send files »

Secure File Transfer Resources

Secure File Transfers with Thru

Download our white paper for more information on how we ensure secure file transfers with combined cloud, application and data security.

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Secure File Transfers of Financial Data

Plus500 customers frequently upload sensitive financial information to its servers. After switching to Thru, Plus500 achieves security and compliance requirements to secure sensitive information »

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Replace FTP Servers with Secure File Sharing Solution

Using an FTP server for file transfers lacked the necessary control and efficiency needed for a global research and manufacturing company. Now, Berghof Group has detailed insights of file access and sharing »


Want to know more about secure file transfers?

Get answers, not a sales pitch. Since 2002, we have analyzed, discussed and solved secure file transfer challenges.


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