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Should You Password Protect Links to Your Files?

Should You Password Protect Links to Your Files?

As file transfer specialists, we speak to customers every day who are trying to strike the balance between ease of use and security.  Internal users want to be able to share a file quickly and simply.  They don’t want to ask the recipient, who may be faced with a myriad of different systems to go through complex authentication processes.  All end users want the simplicity of the cloud systems they use at home, which are great for sharing your holiday photos.

Although a ruling in the US courts last month may have just swung the balance in favour of a more secure approach.

Video footage related to a court case was uploaded and a non-password protected link was shared between the firm, its parent company and the investigating team.  At a later stage, further legal files were added to the same folder.  The link was included in the police files and was then forwarded to the opposing legal firm.  They were then able to download all of the files before the court case.

The judge ruled that the company had waived any claim of privilege to materials as they were accessible to anyone who had the hyperlink. “In essence, the defendant conceded that its actions were the cyber world equivalent of leaving its claims file on a bench in the public square and telling its counsel where they could find it. It is hard to imagine an act that would be more contrary to protecting the confidentiality of information than to post that information to the world wide web.”

This ruling should make us all think twice before putting confidential documents in a file-sharing site without password protection, especially when there are so many secure alternatives available.

Resources Available For You

The Expert Guide to Managed File Transfer

Includes definitions, requirements assessment, product comparison, building your business case and much more.

Managed File Transfer Needs Analysis

200 essential questions to consider before implementing your chosen Managed File Transfer solution.

Managed File Transfer Comparison Guide

A full feature comparison of Managed File Transfer solutions from the eight leading vendors in the industry.

With Only 15 Months To Go – Are You Ready for GDPR?

With Only 15 Months To Go – Are You Ready for GDPR?

The EU has now changed its data protection rules. They will fully apply from 25 May 2018.

These new rules are called the General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR), although the full official name of the new rules is “Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)” which can be found in the EU Official Journal (OJ L 119 of 4.5.2016, p.1) here.

To help you identify what the implications are for your business and what practical steps you need to take, Pro2col are working with Jonathan Armstrong, an experienced lawyer with a concentration on technology and compliance and partner at Cordery Legal Compliance.   His practice includes advising multinational companies on matters involving risk, compliance and technology across Europe.  Jonathan is one of three co-authors of the LexisNexis definitive work on technology law, “Managing Risk: Technology & Communications”. He is a frequent broadcaster for the BBC and other channels and is regularly published in Infosecurity Magazine.

As referenced in my blog article; “Impact of Brexit on GDPR“, the EU legislation will still impact UK businesses in the run-up to leaving the EU and in all likelihood post life in the EU.  It is important to note that the legislation covers all electronic communications data, i.e it is not limited to “personal data” but covers data related to an end-user (individuals and entities). Both more traditional content (text, voice, video, images, sound etc) and metadata (data used to trace source and/or location of communication, the time, date and duration of a communication etc) derived from electronic communications are included. This data will have to be anonymised or deleted unless a user has given consent to their continued use or for legitimate purposes such as billing.

To comply companies will need to implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to protect data against loss or any unlawful forms of processing.  These measures should guarantee a level of security appropriate to the risks represented by the processing and the nature of the data to be protected.  Managed File Transfer is one of the technical measures that can assist with reducing the human risk of data sharing through automating transfers and providing secure, auditable methods for end-user file sharing.  MFT also provides detailed logs and reports for your compliance team.

For all businesses, there is now plenty to be done ahead of next May.  Jonathan will be presenting an overview of GDPR at a Pro2col event on Thursday 9th March.  Click here to register.

Resources Available For You

The Expert Guide to Managed File Transfer

Includes definitions, requirements assessment, product comparison, building your business case and much more.

Managed File Transfer Needs Analysis

200 essential questions to consider before implementing your chosen Managed File Transfer solution.

Managed File Transfer Comparison Guide

A full feature comparison of Managed File Transfer solutions from the eight leading vendors in the industry.

FTPS or SFTP? It’s not Agatha Christie

FTPS or SFTP? It’s not Agatha Christie

In 1941 crime novelist Agatha Christie published her detective book “N or M?”; while selecting between FTPS or SFTP is hardly the same thing, you still might need to use some sleuthing skills to make the right choice.

ftps-or-sftp

Partners in crime

Let’s start by looking at which protocol was around first; FTP by a mile – but not in a secured state initially. FTPS makes use of either the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols to provide connection security through encryption; this is provided by the FTPS servers x.509 format public key certificate. The certificate may be trusted (provided by a trusted certification authority), or else self-signed. Using a self-signed certificate does not mean the level of encryption is any less, just that you have to be sure that the host is who they say they are. FTPS connections are made secure either implicitly or explicitly. FTPS servers generally listen for implicit connections on port 990 and explicit connections on port 21 – although of course the server administrator may choose to use different ports if they desire.

An implicit connection starts with the client issuing a TLS “Client Hello” message; this message implies that the connection should be secure and if the server doesn’t receive it, the connection is immediately dropped. If however the server does receive the “Client Hello” message, it will send the server certificate to the client, which will authenticate it and use it to encrypt a session key which it then sends back to the server to encrypt the session with.

In the case of explicit FTPS, the client explicitly requests security by sending an “AUTH TLS” (or AUTH SSL) command straight after the connection is made. If the AUTH command is not sent, the FTPS server will treat the client connection as a ‘regular’ non-secure FTP session instead.

Interestingly, implicit connections are not listed in RFC 2228 (the FTPS documentation), only explicit connections.

In either case, once the session has started, the client will need to authenticate to the FTPS server – normally this will be by userid and password, but may also include client certificates if required. All FTP commands are quite naturally passed along the control channel (normally 21 for explicit or 990 for implicit), but FTPS then needs a separate channel for data communications (the actual sending of files or directory lists). The data channels are by default port 20 for explicit FTPS and port 989 for implicit FTPS. Data channels are opened as they are required, then immediately closed again (the control channel remains open for the duration of the session).

 

Nemesis

In the style of so many detective story plots, SFTP is not what you might immediately suspect it to be – a form of FTP. In fact, FTPS and SFTP are completely unrelated and bear only a passing resemblance in the structure of many commands. SFTP is not FTP over an SSH connection, rather a distinct protocol in its own right which makes use of the underlying SSH protocol to provide connection security and authentication. Because it is using the underlying SSH protocol, it is normal to use the SSH port (generally port 22).

With SFTP we move away from using certificates for encryption and instead use public/private key pairs, which are not signed by trusted authorities. Like an FTPS self-signed certificate, the only area of doubt is that the server is who it professes to be – once you are confident that you have connected to the right server, you simply accept the server key and proceed to exchange files over an encrypted session.

The most important difference between FTPS and SFTP is that SFTP requires just one port to operate on – there is not a separate data and control channel to take care of.

In contrast to FTPS where clients occasionally provide a certificate for authentication, it is common practice for SFTP batch clients to authenticate by key only to avoid the need to store and maintain passwords.

 

Cards on the table

So having considered some basics of both FTPS and SFTP, let’s look at some of the details and see what each can do that the other can’t. Mostly speaking, what one can do the other can too – there are a few exceptions though:

  • FTPS will allow you to create custom commands
  • SFTP has better control of file permissions, ownership and properties
  • FTPS allows use of Trusted x.509 certificates
  • SFTP only requires a single port to be open on the firewall
  • FTPS supports EBCDIC transfers
  • SFTP allows creation of symbolic links
  • Windows servers and clients don’t natively support SFTP
  • SFTP is simple to install and manage on Linux and Unix servers

 

And then there were none

Mostly the decision on which protocol to use comes down to the requirements of the organisation; if there is a prevalence of linux/unix servers in a network, SFTP may be the better choice. Conversely, in a Windows only environment it makes no sense to install SFTP as it would require clients to be installed everywhere.

In addition, some firewall administrators would be happier to use SFTP with it’s single port, while some server administrators may not want SSH access to their servers enabled.

Otherwise it makes sense where possible to invest in file transfer server software that supports both protocols and leave the choice up to the clients.

 

Resources Available For You

The Expert Guide to Managed File Transfer

Includes definitions, requirements assessment, product comparison, building your business case and much more.

Managed File Transfer Needs Analysis

200 essential questions to consider before implementing your chosen Managed File Transfer solution.

Managed File Transfer Comparison Guide

A full feature comparison of Managed File Transfer solutions from the eight leading vendors in the industry.

Impact of Brexit on the GDPR

Impact of Brexit on the GDPR

The opening statement of Information Commissioner Sir Christopher Graham’s last annual report talked about “responding to new challenges, and preparing for big changes, particularly in the data protection and privacy field.” Delivering his speech in the early aftermath of Brexit, everyone was keen to get his view on the implications for the roll out of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Prior to Brexit

In April of 2016, after two years of debating, the final terms of the European GDPR were agreed. The legislation comes into effect for member states in May 2018 and includes key changes such as:

  • The right to be forgotten
  • New stricter conditions for the adequate protection of file transfers
  • Privacy notices for individuals on how their data is handled
  • Tighter legislation around active consent for processing data
  • And a shared liablity for breaches between data controllers and data processors.

The change that many CIOs will be concerned about is the increase in sanctions for data breach, which have increased to 4% of annual global turnover.

GDPR-reform

Moving forward

When asked about the uncertainty, the Commissioner stated “We now need to consider the impact of the referendum on UK data protection regulation. It is very much the case that the UK has a history of providing legal protection to consumers around their personal data which precedes EU legislation by more than a decade, and goes beyond current EU requirements.” He stressed that “Having clear laws with safeguards in place is more important then ever given the growing digital economy, and we will be speaking to parts of the government to present our view that reform of the UK law remains necessary.”

But will EU GDPR still effect us?

The changes in EU Legislation are due to come into effect in May 2018. As the debate over Article 50 continues, CIOs face on-going uncertainty. However, whether the UK is still a member of the EU or not, the new rules will still apply to many organisations. The newly agreed scope states that the law will apply to non-EU companies that are offering goods and services to EU citizens. Any UK organisation selling in Europe will still need to comply with GDPR.

In closing, the Commissioner reiterated that the ICO would continue to make sure that the current standard of excellence remains intact. “We must maintain the confidence of businesses and of consumers. The ICO stands ready to enforce the rules that remain and make the case for the highest standards going forward.”

Whatever the law is called, data protection is not going away.

If you’re unsure how any of the current or upcoming data protection legislation effects your businesses’ file transfer requirements give our team of experts a call on 0207 118 9640.

Resources Available For You

The Expert Guide to Managed File Transfer

Includes definitions, requirements assessment, product comparison, building your business case and much more.

Managed File Transfer Needs Analysis

200 essential questions to consider before implementing your chosen Managed File Transfer solution.

Managed File Transfer Comparison Guide

A full feature comparison of Managed File Transfer solutions from the eight leading vendors in the industry.

South River Technologies’ Cornerstone MFT and DMZedge Servers Support Latest Security Standards

South River Technologies’ Cornerstone MFT and DMZedge Servers Support Latest Security Standards

South River Technologies, Inc. (SRT) have announced today that versions 2016 of the popular Cornerstone MFT Server and DMZedge Server now include even more advanced security updates.

The latest version of Cornerstone’s SSH/SFTP engine now has upgraded support for SHA2 and SHA3 Hashing (the newest security standard recently adopted by NSA). SRT is the only MFT vendor currently supporting the SHA3/Keccak standard.

In addition, this version now features Diffie-Hellman key exchange algorithms for group1-sha256 and group14-sha256, advanced methods of digital encryption that allow for the secure exchange of cryptographic keys over a public channel.

These advanced security features allow users to stay proactive and ahead of security issues instead of being reactive, once a security standard has been compromised. These features also ensure that Cornerstone and DMZedge remain the most secure file sharing solutions available.

“As an MFT vendor, our philosophy is to stay ahead of commonly accepted security standards, rapidly adopting the most recently approved standards, customers should never find themselves suddenly vulnerable because an encryption technology has been compromised, and then have to wait for their vendor to catch up.”

Michael Ryan, CEO, South River Technologies

Cornerstone MFT Servers are installed in government, healthcare, financial services and major corporations worldwide. The 2016 versions of Cornerstone MFT Server and DMZedge Server are available for immediate purchase, please contact us on 0207 118 9640 or [email protected]

Secure File Sharing at the Local Government Strategy Forum

Secure File Sharing at the Local Government Strategy Forum

Heythrop Park, April 12th – 13th

This month I attended my second Local Government Strategy Forum, at the beautiful Heythrop Park Resort in Oxfordshire. Invited by our partner Maytech, I was the ‘independent industry expert’ and had the pleasure of spending two days in this lovely environment, talking with senior management and C-suite executives from councils all around the UK.

heythrop-park

Before attending these events I had, what I believe to be a commonly held opinion, that council workers were underworked and overpaid. I’d read all the stories in the local press about the six-figure salaries and the cancellation of services to ensure their lavish lifestyle. However I’d never stopped to think what they actually did. Listening intently at these events has given me a small insight into the workings of councils, and whilst I’m sure there is still more efficiencies to be realised, I couldn’t have more admiration for the wide range of services they provide and the challenges they have prioritising them to balance the books.

The financial challenges being faced by councils has lead to them adopting a more business-like approach. They are looking at every aspect of their business to drive out wastage and streamline operations, and that’s where my expertise came in.

John Lynch, CEO, Maytech – presenting Quatrix on day one

Over the duration of two days I spoke with in excess of 50 delegates about their data sharing, collaboration, secure file transfer and business process automation challenges. Our experience in this area, working with council’s such as Cambridgeshire County Council, North East Lincolnshire Council and most recently Mid-Sussex Council, ensured we already had a view on some of the challenges being faced for data sharing in the public sector.

As ever there’s not one technology, which addresses the wide range of data sharing requirements of councils, our council customers are using solutions from five of our suppliers. The service we provide is to help them to fully understand their requirements and then choose the right solutions for their needs and budget.

If your council or company needs to address its file sharing, collaboration and secure file transfer requirements why not download one of our free resources below:

What is Managed File Transfer?

Managed File Transfer Starter Pack

Comparison Guide

Building a Business Case for MFT