The What, The Why And The Who Of Secure File Transfer

In this blog, we outline the advantages for both security and privacy of sending personal or sensitive data via secure file transfer rather than “normal” email. Is it fiddly or complex? Will it impact your daily processes? You can read more, here

Secure file transfer is a bit of an odd business to be in. We often find ourselves in a position of closing the gate after the horse has bolted or trying to explain how the gate got opened in the first place. To be honest, we don’t get frustrated about it because we understand why.

File security is not like looking around and seeing you are about to run out of coffee, it is an investment that requires understanding and information. Information that you may well have had absolutely no reason to consider before you needed it. However, there are so many businesses and institutions that are at risk that we want to try to accessibly define who should be using secure transfer, what secure transfer is, and why you should be using it.

 The What

Firstly let me define some terms. There is Secure File Transfer (SFT) and Secure Large File Transfer (SLFT) and we need to be sure of the difference. Fortunately, this is pretty much as simple as it sounds in the names. We suggest you consider your future use as well as your current use when you are thinking about file transfer. In the main, files that are being emailed are quite small items. Things such as letters and small documents will still need securing but they are small files in the scale of things. The size of the files we email is trending upwards and if you send files that include photographs, data or scans, you probably want to consider the SLFT solution.

The explanation of what SFT is and does is remarkably simple. In fact it is so simple it can be described in one sentence.

SFT is a way of sending sensitive documents, text and files in a manner that only makes them available to the intended recipient/s.

 The Why

Have a think about why you are emailing, what your email traffic is for and then about what is in it.

How often do you send information or attachments that you only want to share with the recipient? Let’s give some common examples; personal details, bank account information, payroll and human resources information, accounts, medical history, information about kids in your care and so on. OK, now put that in the context of the fact that once you press ‘send’, your email will be sent to a server, which will then send your email on to other servers, which may then send the email to a local email server where it will notify the intended recipient that a mail has arrived.

From the moment you pressed ‘send’, to the moment someone (not even necessarily the intended recipient; a lot of security breaches happen internally) opens the mail, you have no control over the security of your message.

SFT is the solution. Sending emails or files using SFT ensures that the document is encrypted on ‘send’ and remains encrypted until the recipient enters their password and decrypts it. You can also monitor the progress of the email through its journey to the recipient so you know when it has arrived safely and when it has been opened.

 The Who

This one is really easy. Everyone who sends sensitive, legal, personal or private information and would like to ensure it is safe during transit and can only be opened by the intended recipient, needs SFT.

It is really simple to use and fast becomes part of your daily routine. There is also the option to use something called Business Security Policy. This is an excellent solution that encrypts emails automatically when they satisfy certain pre-defined criteria. So if you are regularly exchanging sensitive information with a particular company, person, or department or you want encryption to apply to emails that include a specific character on the subject line, you can.

So there you have it. A very brief, very simple description of SSLPost Secure File Transfer.