Helping You to Make Informed Choices for SFTP and Data Security

by | Dec 4, 2023

Thanks to a series of unfortunate events in the world of file transfer, we’ve been getting asked a lot of questions about different aspects of the managed file transfer process, including about what SFTP is and why it is important to keeping files secure while moving them from point to point. When you live in the managed file transfer world and talk with others who do, too, it can be easy to forget that not everyone is familiar with the hows and whys of MFT. Most people just want to know that something works, and so when they learn that there’s more to sending files from one place to another, and that the details affect important things like security, reliability, service level agreements, regulatory compliance, and the like, you can’t dismiss even the most basic of questions.

We Don’t Use Jargon

Edge Gateway SFTP SolutionIt’s also important to not talk in jargon. Use of jargon assumes that others know things they probably don’t, and that can be insulting or intimidating. Honest questions deserve straight answers. Don’t say “SFTP” without explaining from the start what SFTP is, including defining the words in the acronym itself. Explain that SFTP stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol (or Secure Shell File Transfer Protocol) and then explain that SFTP is a secure digital communications protocol for ensuring the security of files and data associated with the transfer of those files.

From there you can start to give more information about the role that SFTP plays in a managed file transfer solution and how it is properly used. For example, that, an SFTP server isn’t a piece of hardware like the kinds of servers they may be more familiar with, but software that you deploy in an internet-facing location to enable the hosting or receiving of files an organization needs to exchange securely with partners, vendors, government agencies, customers, and other organizations. That is because you and an external entity need a way to connect to each other that is compatible by using standard protocols, and that is secure by using encryption and strong authentication.


That likely leads to, “Why SFTP?” Our answer is that SFTP is the best choice for file exchanges because it supports the highest levels of security for one- or two-factor authentication, data encryption, and integrity verification. SFTP is also a universal protocol, available on any platform from Windows, Linux, MacOS, mainframes, IoT, and cloud storage providers. Furthermore, SFTP is a firewall-friendly protocol, requiring only one hole in the firewall to support all file transfer operations (no more headaches with FTP port ranges!).

In fact, a lot of organizations have standardized on MFT solutions that support SFTP, requiring their vendors, partners, and customers to choose products that do the same. Citi Bank, J.P. Morgan, and Bank of America are a few examples of companies that require third parties use SFTP as part of their managed file transfer process when exchanging files. That’s smart because digital supply chains are only as strong as their weakest link.

A Strong Digital Supply Chain

Requiring that your first-order connections adhere to strong standards keeps everyone more secure and use of an SFTP server assures that when an organization sends or received files from an external party, it will be managed securely across any network using the strongest cryptography available. That is essential to preventing certain cyberattacks, like man-in-the-middle attacks where threat actors manage to insert themselves into the communications stream to monitor and intercept data and files, and can impersonate a trusted third party in order to manipulate communications to steal data or gain information vital to escalating an attack.

That is why the Coviant Software Diplomat MFT family of secure managed file transfer solutions support SFTP and includes not only an SFTP server, but our Edge Gateway product. Together these pieces broker SFTP traffic from the “demilitarized zone” on the outside of your enterprise’s firewall between you and the public-facing internet to keep data secure where it would otherwise be most vulnerable to compromise. Our Edge Gateway enables secure communication from the DMZ to your back-end network without requiring any inbound holes in your firewall, ensuring that no data remains in the DMZ. Instead, all authentication and access control is securely managed by your back-end systems. This secure-by-design, defense-in-depth approach significantly increases your company’s security posture.

We’ve Got Answers to Your Questions

As a part of our award-winning, no-code simple Diplomat MFT secure managed file transfer solution, the files exchanged can be automatically PGP encrypted or decrypted, ZIP compressed or decompressed, and/or transferred to internal or cloud storage systems where they need to go for integration or consumption. The entire process for file exchanges—send, receive, host, and retrieve—is handled automatically, including process data capture for security auditability as an essential element for compliance with information security and data privacy regulations and standards like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Data Privacy Act (DPA), and the Payment Card Information Digital Security Standard (PCI-DSS).

If you’ve got questions about the secure file transfer protocol, managed file transfer, or any of our Diplomat MFT products, please reach out. One of our experts will answer your questions with thoroughness and respect. Yes, we’d love it if you decided to become a Coviant Software customer. But our first concern is that you have the information you need to make informed decisions pertaining to the security of your data and the people who put their trust in your brand.