Best Managed File Transfer Software

How to Find the Best Managed File Transfer Software

Shopping for managed file transfer software vendors? This comprehensive buyer’s guide shows you the best option for your organization.

What is MFT software? Managed file transfer software is a program or service that manages the secure transferring of data and files from one person to another via a network. Many large enterprises use this software rather than FTP or HTTP. 

Enterprise File Transfer

The term MFT (managed file transfer) is used to describe the process of transferring digital files between two or more systems over a network. Managed file transfer solutions are typically cloud-based solutions that are designed to provide more secure and reliable file transfers than traditional FTP (File Transfer Protocol). These solutions can improve overall file transfer success rates and security. They also often provide other features such as encryption, data compression, logging, auditing, and archiving. MFT solutions can be used to transfer large files and folders between systems, as well as data between applications and databases.

Why Is Managed File Transfer So Important for Enterprise Businesses?

File transfer is an integral part of enterprise business in our data-driven world. Just moving files from one place to another is not enough, however. Enterprise businesses call for advanced tools to schedule and secure their file transfers, and to gather insight from how their people interact with that data.

Initial file transfer protocols, namely FTP, did not come complete with security features. Protocols like FTP filled the gap by building an FTP solution with end-to-end encryption so that data transmitted over public networks couldn’t be read if intercepted.

At the enterprise level, however, several additional considerations play into file transfer:

  1. Workflow and automation. Many organizations have complex workflows that trigger additional effects during file access and transfer. No singular file transfer protocol has that kind of power, but managed file transfer software typically does. Additionally, managed solutions can automate batch file transfers, logging, and email reporting based on user activity or time of day.
  2. Compliance. Many compliance frameworks like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) or SOX require logs and reporting around the security of files and who can access them. An MFT solution can facilitate a complete, big-picture view of the reporting, security, and risk involved with file storage and transfer.
  3. Data growth. As businesses become more and more data-driven, the demand for secure, scalable, and compliant data solutions also grows. A proper MFT can provide that kind of scalability across multiple infrastructures and endpoint devices.

How Managed File Transfer Works

MFT is a type of technology that securely exchanges files between different users, systems, and organizations. MFT ensures that the files are transferred with high security and reliability, typically using encryption and digital signatures.

The MFT workflow typically involves generating a secure connection between the sender and recipient systems and establishing an appropriate security protocol to protect the transfer. The file is then uploaded to the MFT system by the sender, who is usually provided with a confirmation of the file transfer upon successful completion. The MFT system then verifies the authenticity of the file against the sender’s digital signature and authenticates the recipient against the set parameters. Upon authentication, the file is transferred to its designated recipient, and the process is completed.

MFT also adds additional features such as automated notifications, logging, and scheduling to ensure secure, reliable, and repeatable file transfers. This makes it easier for organizations to manage their secure file transfers, as well as track, audit, and report on the status of those transfers.

Benefits of Using Managed File Transfer Solutions

Organizations that use MFT to transfer files cite many business benefits, including:

  1. Secure Transfer of Files: Managed file transfer solutions provide secure transfer of files. They encrypt data during the file transfer process and use authentication protocols to verify the identity of the sender and recipient. This ensures that only authorized individuals can access the data.
  2. Automation: Managed file transfer solutions allow for automation of file transfers. This allows users to schedule and automate the transfer of large volumes of data without manual intervention.
  3. Improved Efficiency: Managed file transfer solutions enable file transfers to be completed quickly and efficiently. This eliminates the need for manual intervention and allows businesses to save time and resources.
  4. Improved Visibility: MFT solutions provide organizations with insight into file transfer activities and provide visibility into data shared between departments or outside of the organization.
  5. Increased Scalability: MFT solutions are scalable and can be used to process large amounts of data. This makes them well-suited for businesses of all sizes, from small startups to large enterprises.

What Are the Differences Between Managed File Transfer (MFT) and File Transfer Protocol (FTP)?

Many organizations question the need to invest in an MFT solution when they already utilize FTP. There are several key differences between the two communication channels. Here are just a few considerations:

  1. Managed file transfer (MFT) provides more efficient and secure data transfer compared to File Transfer Protocol (FTP). MFT includes various features such as encryption, data integrity, auditability, and user authentication, which are not present in FTP.
  2. MFT systems provide automation and scheduling capabilities, while FTP is a manual process.
  3. MFT solutions often support multiple protocols (e.g., FTP, SFTP, AS2, etc.), while FTP is limited to its own protocol, so MFT is more flexible.
  4. MFT solutions often are composed of a comprehensive set of integrated tools, including file transfer and transformation services, while FTP is limited to file transfer only.
  5. MFT transfers allow for large files to be securely and orderly transferred, while FTP is limited due to its limited data transfer capabilities.

What Kinds of Security Do MFT Solutions Usually Include?

While not all secure MFTs are created equal, many of them come with a basic set of security protocols and features that allow them to carry the name “secure.”

Some of the more common protocols include:

  • SSH FTP and/or FTP over SSL. Secure and direct peer-to-peer file transfer using SSH or SSL security (respectively).
  • Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). Secure web content delivery for intranet portals and other internal file directories shared over web browsers.
  • Odette FTP (OFTP). A secure file transfer protocol created in Europe and built to handle push and pull requests, request signed receipts, and data compression.
  • Applicability Statement 2 (AS2). Secure transmissions of business-to-business data used by large retailers.

Through these protocols, most secure MFTs should be compliant with many regulations, including HIPAA.

What Should I Look for in a Secure MFT Vendor?

The real benefit of secured MFTs is the combination of security and enterprise-level tools, like the following:

  • Authorization and validation. Many MFTs can include least-privilege authentication, FIPS validation compliance, and secure enterprise storage. These aspects can help with compliance requirements, including HIPAA or FedRAMP.
  • Encryption and decryption. Many advanced enterprise secure MFTs will come with advanced encryption and hardened storage for decryption keys.
  • Antivirus software. MFTs worth their salt will have mechanisms to perform virus scans and quarantines to isolate any malware introduced to your system.
  • Secure file governance. Solid MFTs will provide secure file storage and governance tools that don’t compromise security. Flow authoring access controls (to work with advanced workflows), granular file access roles and user policies, and regular logging are all important.
  • Data analytics. Many MFTs come with built-in analytics and dashboard tools to help you gather data about your data. Use this to meet compliance standards, such as HIPAA compliance, and optimize file management through automation or minimizing data scope.

How Is Kiteworks’ MFT Capability Unique?

The Kiteworks platform and its managed file transfer capability prioritize features in three categories:

  1. Security and compliance. Kiteworks’ secure MFT solutions include encryption and end-to-end security standards that keep you compliant with some of the most important regulations out there, including HIPAA and FedRAMP. This includes top file transfer security protocols and encryption tools. Best-in-class security includes SSO (single sign-on), MFA (multi-factor authentication), AV (antivirus), ATP (advanced threat protection), and DLP (data loss prevention).

    You can also consolidate third-party storage and communications across all your email, file transfers, web forms, and other channels by routing them through the Kiteworks platform to protect your sensitive data.

  2. Automation. Enterprise file transfer workflows require extensive logical controls and security tools. Kiteworks provides automation for secure file transfer software workflows including agents to complete complex tasks at scale. All this, without the need to know code.
  3.  Visibility. Kiteworks gives you the ability to manage file access and transfers with a high-level view of your system. Using a CISO Dashboard or SIEM (security information and event management), you can run reports on total access, locations, transfers, and threats through a normalized syslog.

Protect Your Data at Rest and in Transit With Kiteworks MFT Solutions

Are you ready to learn more about how your business will benefit from Kiteworks’ Secure Managed File Transfer capability? Request a custom demo to see how Kiteworks delivers the most comprehensive security and compliance in the industry for MFT.

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