What Is Secure File Transfer?

Secure file transfer is a way to protect data during transit using encryption, authentication, access controls and auditing when sharing files within or across networks. These features help businesses achieve compliance to industry standards and governance policies.

image of secure file transfer solution with identity management, data centers, data security and data management governance

Share Files Using Secure File Transfer Protocols

Businesses share sensitive files using common protocols such as SFTP, FTPS and HTTPS. Therefore, a secure file transfer solution needs to be protocol-agnostic, meaning it can exchange a variety of files, internally or externally, regardless of protocol, file type or file size.


Secure File Transfer Protocol

SFTP is a network protocol that uses and relies on a secure channel such as SSH to provide secure file transfer capabilities. SFTP is one of the most used protocols for file transfers. Since Thru can act as a client or server, SFTP clients or servers can continue to be used as needed.


Hypertext Transfer Protocol over SSL

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.


File Transfer Protocol over SSL/TLS 1.2/1.3

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 file security requirements and partners’ requirements.

Top Methods of Encrypting File Transfers

The best way to protect files is complete end-to-end encryption (E2EE): 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. PGP key signing is also available.

Data Encryption in Transit

How is data in transit secured?

Encrypted protocols provide an additional level of defense when sharing files. Secure files in transit using a secure protocol such as 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

screenshot of generating SSH key within file transfer solution portal

SFTP Secures 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.

MFT Adds Control to SFTP Transfers

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.

Monitoring, Alerts, Audit & Logging

Monitor the “who, what, where and when” of file transfers: Thru records granular details of all file transfer activity, user actions, metadata and any changes to records in the system.

Alerts are generated when issues are encountered. Users or administrators can elect to receive alerts and notifications.

An administrator can easily produce an audit trail for all files that pass through our secure file transfer solution. Current and historical alerts and logs can be viewed in dashboards, manually downloaded or consumed over APIs.

illustration showing screen being monitored

Compliance and Standards

As sharing data electronically continues to grow so does the number of regulations requiring stricter data security and privacy protection. Continually evolving corporate governance policies and industry security standards place additional requirements on data sharing and file transfers that an MFT service must be designed to meet.

Our MFT solution provides a proven means for businesses to achieve their goals of remaining compliant and strengthening data security. Thru has several features to help achieve compliance, including encryption in transit and at rest, role-based access controls, multi-level retention policies and audit and logging.

Compliance »

Cloud & Application Security

To mitigate security breaches and protect file transfers from potential threats such as hackers and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, a zero trust approach across multiple levels of security is in place, including

  • Antimalware
  • Antivirus scanning
  • Authentication
  • Access controls
Cloud & Application Security »
illustration showing cloud being monitored for protection and that the cloud is secured

How To Find Best File Sharing Solution

To find the best solution to securely transfer files, look for a comprehensive MFT solution with core functionality that includes

FAQs about Secure File Transfer

What is secure file transfer?

Secure file transfer is a file sharing solution that uses secure protocols to protect data during transit and at rest. Additional data protection measures provided by managed file transfer tools include end-to-end encryption, advanced authentication and role-based access controls.

How can I keep my file transfers compliant?

Using just secure file transfer protocols to exchange files is not sufficient to achieve compliancy requirements. The right managed file transfer tool has additional features to help businesses remain compliant with corporate governance policies and industry security standards, including

  • Encryption in transit and at rest
  • Role-based access controls
  • Multi-level retention policies
  • Audit and logging

Learn more about keeping file transfers compliant »

What are the best practices to securely share files?

To protect your business-critical data, ensure your secure file transfer solution includes functionality that supports the best practices laid out in this blog. Learn the best practices and how your organization can implement them »

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

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

What are alternatives to FTP?

File transfer protocol (FTP) is an unencrypted protocol. Files that are sent outside companies’ firewalls can be read if they’re sent with FTP. To avoid security issues, companies must choose an encrypted alternative »

Is SFTP better than FTPS for secure file transfers?

Both SFTP and FTPS are secure file transfer protocols, but they have some differences that usually make one a preferred choice over the other. Read more about the differences between SFTP and FTPS »

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

Go to our Trust Center 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 sharing 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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