Reframing MFT’s Role in the Modern Enterprise

Reframing Managed File Transfer’s Role in the Modern Enterprise

Managed file transfer (MFT) has been a crucial piece of the digital puzzle for enterprises for decades now. Over the years, however, the primacy of managed file transfer in the enterprise data-sharing ecosystem has been challenged by the emergence of other faster, more efficient, and potentially cost-effective file transfer options. But, far from rendering managed file transfer obsolete, these developments have necessitated a rethink – a reframing of MFT’s role in the modern enterprise.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at managed file transfer technology, including its historical strengths, challenges, innovations, and whether or not it has a place in the modern enterprise (spoiler alert: it does).

Managed File Transfer: Marginalized, But Not Obsolete

Managed file transfer (MFT) has been the go-to solution for businesses for many years because it has presented a secure, reliable means of transferring large amounts of data.

Managed file transfer emerged as a reliable solution for file transfers dating back to the early 2000s. It was initially designed to replace traditional file transfer methods, like file transfer protocol (FTP) and secure file transfer protocol (SFTP), which lacked the robustness and reliability required by modern businesses.

Managed file transfer quickly gained traction by offering improved security, greater control over file transfers, and more comprehensive tracking and auditing capabilities. Managed file transfer provided businesses a secure way to transfer files both internally and externally, minimizing the risk of data breaches. With features like encryption and authentication protocols, businesses could ensure that only authorized users could access and transfer sensitive data.

Managed file transfer’s primary value was, by and large, its ability to manage large volumes of data transfers. Organizations could schedule automated file transfers, saving significant time and resources. Additionally, MFT allowed for real-time monitoring and reporting, giving businesses unparalleled visibility into their data transfer processes. In essence, managed file transfer brought a new level of sophistication to enterprise file transfer processes. Despite the recent advancements in cloud-based technologies and APIs, managed file transfer continues to hold a crucial place in enterprise data management.

Nevertheless, with the swift and steady progression of technology, alternative solutions started to crop up, aimed at tackling the limitations of managed file transfer. For instance, cloud-based storage systems began to gain popularity due to their ability to allow real-time access to files from any location, given the presence of a reliable internet connection. This eliminated the need for physical data storage devices and the associated risk of damage or loss, thereby making data storage and retrieval processes more efficient and reliable.


Reframing Managed File Transfer’s Role in the Modern Enterprise - Key Takeaway
  1. Evolution of Managed File Transfer (MFT):
    Initially developed to replace traditional methods like FTP and SFTP, MFT gained traction by offering enhanced security, control, and comprehensive tracking capabilities.
  2. Continued Use of MFT:
    Businesses still opt for MFT for its ability to efficiently handle large-sized files and provide detailed insights into data transfers, ensuring compliance with industry regulations.
  3. Legacy MFT Solutions’ Security Challenges:
    Legacy MFT systems face cybersecurity threats. Modern, secure solutions feature advanced encryption, multi-factor authentication, and detailed access controls.
  4. Modern MFT Features and Advantages:
    Automation, detailed workflows, and seamless integration capabilities enhance operational efficiency. Scalability and high availability ensure reliable data transfer, even during peak demand periods.
  5. Outlook for Managed File Transfer:
    Modern MFT solutions equipped with robust security features will play a critical role in safeguarding sensitive data amidst escalating cyber threats, promising a secure and efficient channel for data.

Similarly, peer-to-peer file sharing became a prominent feature. This technology enabled direct file sharing between systems, without the need for a central server. The simplicity and speed of this system, juxtaposed with the more complex and time-consuming MFT, made it an appealing alternative for many organizations.

With these new technologies providing faster, more convenient, and cost-effective alternatives, managed file transfer started being viewed as a lagging, cumbersome and ineffective solution by comparison. Managed file transfer couldn’t compete with the efficiency and agility of these newly emerging solutions. Managed file transfer was also viewed as comparatively more complicated to implement and manage, which added to its growing list of disadvantages.

Gradually, the once-favored position that MFT held in tech stacks began to dwindle. Organizations that valued speed, convenience, and cost-effectiveness, started to gradually move away from MFT. The transition wasn’t immediate, but the shift was noticeable and significant.

When and Why Enterprises Look to Managed File Transfer

Despite the availability of more advanced data transfer solutions, there are numerous instances when businesses still turn to managed file transfer. For instance, a significant characteristic that sets MFT apart from other systems is its exceptional capacity to manage the transfer of large–sized files. Why? managed file transfer’s optimized routines and protocols specifically designed for handling high–volume data transfers ensure efficient and reliable transmission of large files.

In addition to its exceptional file transfer capabilities, managed file transfer stands unmatched in its ability to deliver comprehensive end-to-end insights into the entire process of file transfer. This characteristic proves especially necessary for enterprises operating within highly regulated industries. Providing a clear, start–to–finish view of data transfers, managed file transfer enables these businesses to maintain strict compliance with industry regulations like the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), by ensuring complete transparency and control over their data movement activities.

There are occasions when the decision to use managed file transfer technology is largely influenced by cost considerations. For instance, certain businesses may have made substantial financial commitments to managed file transfer infrastructure. For these companies, the vast expenses previously incurred in setting up managed file transfer infrastructure may make it prohibitively costly to transition towards the adoption of newer, potentially more efficient technologies. Rather than incurring additional costs, these companies might deem it more financially viable to persist with their existing managed file transfer infrastructure.

Similarly, businesses that rely on outdated, or “legacy,” systems may find that continuing with managed file transfer proves easier and more cost-effective. This is primarily due to potential compatibility issues that could arise when attempting to incorporate newer technologies. Upgrading or changing to a different technology solution might necessitate significant modifications or even a complete overhaul of their system which can be both time-consuming and expensive. As such, the cost-effectiveness and convenience of managed file transfer may make it the preferred choice for businesses, despite the potential benefits of implementing newer technological solutions. This familiarity with managed file transfer technology and its straightforward—albeit dated—operation means less training is required, thereby saving businesses even more resources.

Legacy Managed File Transfer and Cyberattacks

Cybersecurity has emerged as a growing concern for businesses globally, and file transfer systems are often vulnerable targets. Legacy managed file transfer systems typically feature glaring security limitations that, if discovered, can be exploited by sophisticated cybercriminals and rogue nation states.

Recently, there have been notable instances where cyber criminals exploited vulnerabilities in ageing managed file transfer systems for their nefarious objectives.

the limitations of legacy managed file transfer systems were glaringly exposed. The older systems lacked the advanced security features necessary to combat sophisticated cyber threats. It serves as a stark reminder that MFT’s role in modern enterprises has to be reframed. Today’s digital enterprises require innovative managed file transfer solutions that are capable of providing robust data security, granular control over file transfers, and adaptability to various IT environments. Moving away from legacy managed file transfer systems and adopting advanced managed file transfer solutions is the need of the hour to safeguard businesses from ever-evolving cyber threats.

Last year saw two managed file transfer solutions exploited by criminal ransomware gang Cl0p, or Clop. In February, they exploited a zero-day remote code injection flaw in GoAnywhere’s managed file transfer software. The GoAnywhere MFT Zero–day vulnerability exposed administrator consoles that directly connect to the internet rather than routing through virtual private networks (VPN) or through IP-based cloud services like AWS and Azure. In May, Clop began exploiting a previously unknown SQL injection vulnerability in Progress Software’s MOVEit MFT software. They installed a webshell on MOVEit Transfer web applications that enabled the gang to download various information from MOVEit Transfer’s MySQL server and perform various malicious actions. Combined, thousands of businesses and government agencies were breached and millions of end users had their personally identifiable and protected health information (PII/PHI) exposed.

The Rise of Modern Managed File Transfer

The reports of managed file transfer’s death are greatly exaggerated. The evolution of managed file transfer has produced a suite of capabilities that can meet and even surpass the needs of today’s businesses.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, managed file transfer solutions have re-emerged as an essential tool for businesses. These updated solutions allow businesses to automate the process of transferring files through machine-based processes, eliminating the need for manual transfers that are not only time-consuming but may also be prone to errors. This automation can save businesses a significant amount of time and resources, thereby reducing operating costs.

In addition to automation, modern managed file transfer solutions also provide businesses with the ability to develop detailed workflows. In this context, a workflow refers to a sequence of data transfer tasks that need to be executed in a particular order. By using workflows, businesses can ensure that there is a systematic and consistent approach to how files are transferred within or outside their network. This consistent approach can dramatically reduce the risk of data loss or other security vulnerabilities, ensuring that important information gets where it needs to go safely and effectively.

Managed file transfer solutions also offer integration with a wide range of business applications. Whether it’s CRM systems, ERP solutions, or other productivity tools, businesses can seamlessly connect their managed file transfer solution to other software platforms used within their organization. This level of integration can streamline operations even further, ensuring that file transfers are aligned with other core business processes.

With the evolution of technology and the widespread adoption of cloud computing, modern managed file transfer solutions have unlocked the potential for unlimited scalability and high availability. Unlike legacy systems that are bound by the physical limitations of on-site servers, cloud–based managed file transfer solutions can scale up or down to meet the changing needs of businesses. This scalability ensures that businesses have the necessary resources to handle file transfers, even during peak periods. Furthermore, the high availability of cloud–based MFT solutions means that businesses can rest easy knowing their file transfer services are always up and running, reducing the risk of downtime and the associated business impacts. Consequently, businesses can have assurance that their file transfer needs will be met reliably and promptly, regardless of the volume of file transfers necessary to support their operations. This assurance can lead to improved business continuity and customer satisfaction.

The Versatility of Modern Managed File Transfer

As a result, managed file transfer solutions are increasingly being favored by businesses due to their versatility and adaptability. This versatility comes from advancements in technology and the need for better control and security in data movement.

Modern managed file transfer solutions now offer high-speed data transfers, support for a wide variety of protocols, and integrations with other enterprise systems. These features not only enhance data security but also improve operational efficiency. They have enabled businesses to handle large volumes of data with ease and ensure that critical business data is always available when needed.

A major use case of managed file transfer’s versatility is in the healthcare sector. Hospitals and healthcare providers manage vast amounts of sensitive patient data that must be securely transferred between different systems. Modern managed file transfer solutions ensure secure, efficient, and HIPAA–compliant data transfers. This not only protects patient information but also improves administrative efficiency.

In the retail sector, businesses can use managed file transfer solutions to manage their stock inventory across different stores and warehouses. The managed file transfer system can automatically sync inventory data across all locations, ensuring that all stores have an accurate picture of their inventory. This helps in better demand-supply balancing, reducing the risk of stock-outs or overstocking.

Another use case is in the manufacturing industry, where companies have to exchange large amounts of data with their suppliers and customers. The modern managed file transfer solution can securely transfer sensitive designs and technical specifications, maintain their confidentiality, and ensure that they are delivered on time. Companies can therefore maintain good relationships with their partners while keeping their competitive edge.

Key Attributes of Modern Managed File Transfer

Modern managed file transfer systems are not just iterations of their legacy counterparts. They have evolved and adapted to address the changing needs of businesses and the dynamic threat landscape of the digital world. Moreover, they offer several unique characteristics.

Firstly, modern managed file transfer solutions incorporate sophisticated security features, including advanced encryption, multi-factor authentication, and rich access control capabilities. Secondly, they offer seamless integration capabilities, facilitating interoperability with various other enterprise systems—be it cloud services, data warehouses, or application servers. Furthermore, these solutions provide unparalleled scalability, thriving even when dealing with massive volumes of data or sudden spikes in demand.

Advanced Security Features Within Modern Managed File Transfer

Modern managed file transfer systems offer top–notch security features, which are imperative in today’s cyber threat landscape. These include advanced encryption techniques that secure data during transit and at rest, multi–factor authentication to verify user identities and prevent unauthorized access, and detailed access control capabilities for granular management of user permissions. Let’s take a closer look at each of these features.

Modern Managed File Transfer Contains Advanced Encryption

Advanced encryption refers to a cutting-edge approach to data security that provides a robust barrier against unauthorized access. It ensues the safety of data by using intricate algorithms such as RSA, AES, and Blowfish. These sophisticated encryption models convert data into a scrambled, indecipherable format, which can only be read when decoded.

Such high-grade encryption methods offer an exceptional level of security, which is particularly essential in the exchange of sensitive files. They are designed to provide fail-safe protection against a range of cyber threats, including hacking and data theft.

The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES encryption), for example, is highly favored by many organizations. Its reputation for being virtually impregnable makes it a reliable choice for safeguarding important data. Many firms embed advanced encryption into their managed file transfer solutions to ensure the secure transmission of data. This is an effective strategy for preventing any unauthorized access or tampering during the transfer process. Furthermore, it not only assures the security of vital business information but also helps companies comply with the stipulations of data privacy laws and regulations.

Therefore, advanced encryption plays a pivotal role in strengthening data security infrastructures and upholding data privacy standards. As cyber threats continue to evolve, using such robust encryption protocols has never been more crucial.

Modern Managed File Transfer Contains Multi–factor Authentication

Multi–factor authentication (MFA) is a sophisticated security protocol requiring the presentation of multiple forms of credentials to effectively verify a user’s identity. The process involves the user validating their identity by providing two or more independent proofs of identity before they are permitted to access sensitive, protected information.

These proofs of identity can incorporate diverse elements such as something known exclusively to the user like a unique password, something in the user’s possession such as a smart card, security token or a mobile device, or something inherent to the user’s identity like biometric data including fingerprints, facial recognition or voice patterns.

The primary function of MFA is to bolster security measures by adding an additional layer of protection. This makes it considerably more challenging for unauthorized individuals to gain access to critical data.

MFA plays a pivotal role in managed file transfer solutions, ensuring that only those with the proper authorization can gain access to, and transfer files. MFA serves to considerably lower the risk of data breaches and cyberattacks and ensures businesses remain in compliance with the increasingly stringent data protection regulations that govern the handling and storage of sensitive data. Therefore, MFA plays a crucial role in both bolstering a business’s cybersecurity measures and ensuring it remains within the relevant legal and regulatory boundaries.

Modern Managed File Transfer Contains Detailed Access Controls

Access controls are designed to regulate who or what can view or utilize resources, thereby playing a crucial role in safeguarding sensitive data. They ensure that only authorized personnel, those who have undergone specific identity verification processes, have access to this kind of data.

The function of these controls is based on pre–established rules and policies that dictate who will have access and to what extent. This determination is often made via advanced identity verification techniques. These techniques may range from simple methods such as passwords to more sophisticated models like biometrics or two–factor authentication. The aim is to limit access to only those who are authorized, thus minimizing the risk of breaches and data leaks.

When these access controls are integrated into a managed file transfer solution, they enhance the security of the data being transferred. Businesses can control who has access to specific files, monitor the data transfer process, and prevent unauthorized access. This advanced control system not only strengthens data security measures but also contributes to a more secure, reliable, and efficient managed file transfer operation. In essence, through the implementation of access controls, companies can bolster their data security practices, making sure the right personnel have access to the right data at the right time. This is a vital measure in the quest for a robust and secure computing environment.

Modern Managed File Transfer Contains Seamless Integration Capabilities

Modern managed file transfer solutions are characterized by their impressive integration capabilities with other enterprise systems. These solutions are designed and built with the potential to interact smoothly and efficiently with a vast array of platforms. These platforms can range from cloud services and data warehouses to application servers and more.

This critical feature ensures superior performance and productivity within an enterprise, promoting greater collaboration and synergy. By enabling this kind of all-inclusive integration, modern MFT solutions now allow businesses to sustain a cohesive, functional, and efficient technology ecosystem.

Moreover, with modern managed file transfer solutions, the flow of information in the organization becomes considerably more fluid and streamlined. The direct integration between various systems eliminates the need for convoluted workarounds or manual operations, further enhancing business efficiency. Consequently, these state–of–the–art managed file transfer solutions that facilitate multifaceted system integration are seen to be a cornerstone for companies to build and maintain a streamlined, effective, and well-connected technology infrastructure.

Modern Managed File Transfer Contains Unrivaled Scalability

Scalability remains as one of the most vital attributes of modern managed file transfer systems.

These systems are designed and developed with the capability to manage an expansive volume of data, highlighting their ability to handle extensive and complex data tasks. They are also engineered to instantly adapt to sudden increases in demand or data traffic.

This adaptability can be seen in the way these systems can effortlessly scale up to accommodate an influx of data, or scale down when the demand lessens. This feature allows businesses to have a higher level of elasticity, supporting their growth and helping them adapt during fluctuating business conditions. Moreover, while managed file transfer systems provide this needed flexibility, they do not sacrifice performance or security. Performance remains constant, proficient and reliable even as the system scales, ensuring seamless operations and workflow. Similarly, security is not compromised under any circumstances. The systems maintain rigorous security measures regardless of their scale, providing robust protection for business data.

The Future of Managed File Transfer in the Modern Enterprise

The future of managed file transfer within the landscape of the modern–day enterprise appears to be significantly promising. Businesses in every sector are steadily transitioning towards digital platforms and therefore are becoming more reliant on decisions driven by data. This shift necessitates an increased need for secure, efficient, and highly customizable file transfer solutions.

Given this continuously evolving business landscape, modern managed file transfer solutions seem well equipped and ready to cater to these ever–growing demands, and the need for these solutions is only expected to intensify. For businesses, their operational dependency on digital data and the subsequent need for its secure exchange is pivotal to their daily functioning, making MFT solutions an integral part of their operations.

Further, the escalating number of cyber threats across the globe signals the clear and definitive need for secure file transfer solutions, with no signs of this need diminishing anytime soon. managed file transfer solutions, equipped with their highly robust security features and compliance capabilities, are set to play a crucial role in the ongoing and future fight against corporate data breaches. These solutions are becoming increasingly important in securing sensitive corporate data, safeguarding confidential client information, and protecting internal communications, making them a frontline defense against potential cyber threats.

With correct and effective configuration and oversight, managed file transfer offers a highly robust, reliable, and secure channel for data transmission. It presents a powerful tool for enterprises to securely manage and transfer their data, ensuring their protection against any possible breaches. Thus, the future of MFT solutions seems bright and promising, paving the way for an era of secure and efficient data management and transmission.

Kiteworks Helps Organizations Transfer Data Securely and in Compliance with Modern Managed File Transfer

The role of managed file transfer in the modern enterprise must not be underrated. Although the advent of faster, more efficient file transfer solutions has challenged the primacy of traditional managed file transfer solutions, it’s important to recognize the resurgence of managed file transfer in its modern incarnation. Modern managed file transfer integrates advanced security features, offers unparalleled scalability, and provides seamless integration capabilities.

Furthermore, with their extensive audit trail capabilities, managed file transfer solutions ensure compliance with strict regulatory requirements and provide businesses with a transparent and convenient method for tracking data transfers. Consequently, no matter the size or industry of the business, managed file transfer solutions can play a pivotal role in the secure exchange of data and thereby, its success in an increasingly digital world.

The Kiteworks Private Content Network, a FIPS 140-2 Level validated secure file sharing and file transfer platform, consolidates email, file sharing, web forms, SFTP and managed file transfer, so organizations control, protect, and track every file as it enters and exits the organization.

Kiteworks managed file transfer provides robust automation, reliable, scalable operations management, and simple, code-free forms and visual editing. It is designed with a focus on security, visibility, and compliance. In fact, Kiteworks handles all the logging, governance, and security requirements with centralized policy administration while a hardened virtual appliance protects data and metadata from malicious insiders and advanced persistent threats. As a result, businesses can transfer files securely while maintaining compliance with relevant regulations

Kiteworks Secure Managed File Transfer supports flexible flows to transfer files between various types of data sources and destinations over a variety of protocols. In addition, the solution provides an array of authoring and management functions, including an Operations Web Console, drag-and-drop flow authoring, declarative custom operators, and the ability to run on schedule, event, file detection, or manually.

Finally, the Kiteworks Secure Managed File Transfer Client provides access to commonly-used repositories such as Kiteworks folders, SFTP Servers, FTPS, CIFS File Shares, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, Box, Dropbox, and others.

In total, Kiteworks provides complete visibility, compliance, and control over IP, PII, PHI, and other sensitive content, utilizing state-of-the-art encryption, built-in audit trails, compliance reporting, and role-based policies.

To learn more about Kiteworks Secure Managed File Transfer and its security, compliance, and automation capabilities, schedule a custom demo today.

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