Given all the stories of hacks and data breaches in recent times, businesses have been firmly reminded that they must limit their exposure to data leakage and theft.
With that in mind, let's begin this article with a basic premise. All data is at risk of being compromised through both malicious and non-malicious activity. Anyone who doubts this need look no further than Target Corporation, Neiman Marcus, Michaels or Home Depot. Data has value and will always be a target for would-be hackers and adversaries.
However, data is also the lifeblood of most organisations and accepting some level of risk is part of doing business. Managing that risk by recognising and shoring up points of vulnerability is the difference between using data as a competitive advantage and being the victim of a catastrophic data loss.
Today's sophisticated and well-funded cyber-threats can come from anywhere and attack nearly every part of your network. However, data that is moving from one location to another is at its most vulnerable and carries with it the highest probability for loss.
Happy birthday, mister data centre…
Data that is safely locked away on-premise or at a hosting provider still carries a certain degree of risk, but data that is moving beyond the firewall introduces a whole new set of elements into the equation that can be difficult, if not impossible, to control. A good analogy can be found by comparing data to the President of the United States who, according to the Secret Service, is at his most vulnerable when he is in transit and outside of a controlled environment.
The Secret Service say that if it were up to them, the President would never leave the confines of the White House. Clearly that is not practical as the job demands constant movement. While it would also be safer to lock your data away in a secure environment, that is also not possible as conducting business requires moving information around at all times. So the question becomes: how do you protect your most critical or personal assets while they are in motion?
When transferring information, whether it is business-related or personal material, users should always consider the potential pitfalls of the channel they are employing. Simply emailing data files or using free services such as Dropbox can have serious implications long after the information has been transferred. For individuals, simply employing encryption software can eliminate many common security vulnerabilities because even if your data is compromised, it is still protected. Other common sense solutions include: avoiding unsecured wireless networks, locking devices with passwords and avoiding the social media overshare.
The science of compliance
For businesses that are forced to deal with compliance and legal implications, it is a bit more complicated. Many of them are turning to a managed file transfer (MFT) system that enables the reliable and secure transfer of files between business parties. It utilises secure protocols and easy-to-understand models of exchange allowing administrators to always know where files are with accuracy, and extensive reporting capabilities.
Unlike traditional or manual file transfer options, MFT incorporates much higher levels of security, scalability, integration, reporting and other features. Through a more sophisticated and controlled file-transfer solution, organisations can bring order, predictability and security to file movement that improves business performance and reduces risk.
Ensuring that files arrive at the intended destination securely and without incident will never create the level of excitement generated by news such as celebrity hacks via iCloud. That is a good thing. Avoiding security-related headlines is the goal of every organisation, as the results of a breach or hack can be devastating from both a financial and reputational perspective. So when it comes to securing critical assets in motion and keeping intellectual property under organisational control, MFT should find its way onto everyone's A-list.
- Ken Allen is Director of Product Marketing for Ipswitch File Transfer