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Secure File Sharing in the Financial Industry: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
Martin Horan

By: Martin Horan on December 15th, 2016

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Secure File Sharing in the Financial Industry: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

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You’ve been looking into your options for a file sharing solution that fits your financial services organization, but your search is turning up more questions than answers:

  • How can we improve efficiency and productivity?
  • Will a consumer-grade option work just fine, or do we need FTP hosting for enterprise?What degree of data security should we be focused on?
  • What software features will satisfy the financial industry in particular?
  • Which option will provide the most functionality with the least amount of difficulty for users?

These are probably just some of the thoughts swirling around your head as you navigate the waters of file sharing knowledge and software selection. Could you use some clear-cut guidance on the matter?

This article breaks down the most important considerations for your financial business in the search for a file sharing solution that meets all your needs. Here, you’ll discover the good, the bad and the ugly in the world of file sharing and come away with a better understanding of how to proceed.

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“The Good”

 

Advanced Security

There are some alarming stats out there:

  • “About 39% of exiting employees steal customer documents and information."
  • "37% of data breaches are due to malicious attacks from cybercriminals and inside jobs."
  • "69% of IT professionals are not likely to be aware of employees using risky file sharing tools."

These dangers are a big reality for organizations today. Financial services businesses, in particular, are at huge risk if their sensitive information is stolen, hacked or mishandled. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that secure FTP hosting for enterprise solves these issues and makes data security the priority that it should be in the financial industry. A provider like FTP Today offers some of the following critical features that keep your valuable information safe:

  • In-transit Encryption
  • At-rest Encryption
  • Password Enforcement
  • Country and Individual IP Address Restrictions

 

Better Risk Management

When it comes to risk management, visibility and control are key. So, how do you achieve those goals? Robust auditing and analytics allow you to get a complete picture of your company’s file sharing practices and use that insight to minimize risk.

When conducting your search for the best file sharing solution, be sure to land on one featuring auditing and analytics tools that provide actionable information for making critical business decisions. For example, FTP Today offers:

  • On Demand Reports
  • Detailed Logs
  • Historical Analytics

 

Backup of Important Files

Back up, back up, back up ... and then back up your files again. Strict backup procedures are crucial for financial organizations. With encrypted backups to a separate geo-location, you can rest assured that you’ll have recovery for everything from an accidental deletion by one of your users to a complete data center facility failure.

Here are some of FTP Today’s most important backup features -- ones you should look for when performing your search for a solution:

  • Daily incremental backup
  • Fast, dual-parity RAID 6 block volumes
  • Recovery of accidentally deleted files
  • Disaster recovery from facility failure

 

Accessability

One benefit of opting for a proficient FTP hosting provider for enterprise is accessibility, including full remote site management capabilities. You can simply log into your secure URL to add, change and delete users. You’re able to have multiple site administrators with separate logins, as well as delegate sub-site administration to individuals who can create and manage users and workspaces within their respective team or department.

Any user can be limited to a single private workspace or can be assigned granular access permissions to more than one workspace. Their visibility will be limited to those workspaces to which they have been granted access. There can be both private workspaces and shared workspaces. Each person is only be able to “see” and access the folders you have assigned to them.

 

“The Bad”

 

Failure to Meet Compliance Standards

If you’re not employing a GLBA-compliant file sharing solution, your business is at risk of serious governmental violations. Maintaining compliance with regulations like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act is a must in the financial industry. Because a single data breach has the potential to endanger the personal information of all your customers, compliance regulations like this one are in place to protect the public. 

GLBA-compliant FTP sites allow you to safeguard customer data from unauthorized access to (or use of) customer data that could result in significant dangers, like identity theft. But the issue goes much deeper than that. If a data breach doesn’t end up costing your business millions of dollars, it could still do irreversible harm to your reputation. One breach of trust with your customer’s valuable information can turn them away for good.

Difficulty of Use

If your employees are not completely satisfied with the IT solutions provided to them, find them difficult to use or don’t fully understand all the features and capabilities that exist for their benefit, they may resort to using their own unapproved solutions.

Your people could be downloading and using applications that work best for them, including consumer-grade cloud and file-sharing services. They may think that these solutions are helping them work faster and smarter, but if they’re doing it without the approval of your IT department, there’s big trouble ahead. If you don’t have control over the applications and software your people are using on their work computers and devices, your financial organization is facing serious security and compliance risks.

It is essential to find out what your users are trying to accomplish with their own unauthorized IT solutions and then equip them with improved options that meet those needs AND maintain critical levels of security and compliance. For example, FTP Today’s WebApp is just as easy as Dropbox but is considerably more secure.

 

“The Ugly”

 

Hackers

Hacking efforts, like ransomware, evolve with each passing day, as cybercriminals learn new ways of getting around network security features. If your financial organization doesn’t have a formal file sharing policy to protect your data assets, you’re at risk of serious danger. Think about how much productivity your organization stands to lose if a significant amount of files are compromised -- potentially thousands or millions of dollars in time and resources, as well as the inability to conduct business.

One of the most important steps a hosted FTP for enterprise should entail to protect users from cyberattacks is intrusion detection and prevention designed to actively monitor connections, detect suspicious activity and instantly blacklist any offending IP addresses. Contrast that against most file sharing providers, who by their very nature have no intrusion protection in place and allow access from any IP address in the entire world.

 

Leaked Information

You probably don’t have to be told that if sensitive information from your financial institution is leaked, the business is in hot water. Talk about “the ugly” -- this is the ugliest. So how do you leverage all the benefits of modern technology while mitigating the risk of data leaks? You select a secure hosted FTP provider that lets you specify who can access files and what they can do with that data down to the kilobyte. You must be able to specify unique upload, download, delete and even list directory permissions for each user, assigning combinations of permissions based on the specific role in your organization they play.

To protect your financial organization from external threats, you should also have a provider that enables you to create restrictions based on things like user-level IP addresses, user-level protocols, the specific type of protocol being used and even the country of origin for a particular connection.

Armed with this helpful insight on what you need to know about file sharing for your financial organization, you’re in a much better position to find the right solution. To make your selection even more informed, be sure to read A Comparison Guide of the Top 7 File Sharing Softwares.

 

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About Martin Horan

Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.

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