How MFT Improves 3 Kinds of File Transfers

Wondering how you might use a managed file transfer (MFT) solution? The answer could depend on the kind of file transfer that’s creating challenges for your organization.

To better understand the benefits of MFT, let’s consider three of the most common kinds of file transfers. In so doing, we’ll pay special attention to problems that arise when these transfers occur unmanaged.

User-to-user
Imagine you’re a claims adjuster at an insurance company. You send and receive several files every day, many of which enter and leave your email inbox as attachments. But whether you’re communicating with policyholders, underwriters, or attorneys, there’s always the possibility that someone will send you a file exceeding the size limit of your employer’s email server.

The same can happen in reverse. What if you send a file to a policyholder’s legal counsel and the limit imposed by her organization’s email server prevents the file from arriving?

The inability of many corporate email servers to send and receive large files is a common problem for user-to-user file transfers, which usually occur on an ad hoc basis within organizations and among customers or partners. To get around the problem, users may turn to personal email accounts or consumer-grade file sharing solutions. Unfortunately, these alternatives lack the security protocols needed to transfer corporate data over a network.

And they could put you at risk for non-compliance.

MFT, on the other hand, can handle large files. It can also confirm successful delivery of all files, large and small – so you’re never left wondering whether customers received updates to their claims before a stipulated date.

But what about more complex file transfers between your organization and client or partner companies – those that go beyond email and involve specific, prearranged activity among servers? How might MFT help you address challenges inherent to transfers of this kind?

Business-to-business
Let’s say you’re an underwriter working for the same insurance company as before. To streamline communication with agents, you require them to submit new applications as part of a batch process – from their server to yours – before a certain time each day.

But there’s a problem. IT is telling management that the applications sit unsecured and exposed on an FTP server before underwriting is able to receive them. The fallout could involve everything from a security breach to a failed compliance audit, and it’s time to figure out a safer solution.

For business-to-business file transfers like these, MFT’s encryption capability offers a far more secure alternative to FTP. It secures your files according to the following steps:

1. Inspect – The MFT solution ensures file integrity by scanning a file’s contents.
2. Encrypt – All contents are encrypted to prevent malicious parties from accessing the data therein.
3. Transmit – A file moves from one server to another, bypassing the unsecure zone where it would otherwise reside exposed.
4. Decrypt – Upon arrival to the server, the MFT solution decrypts the file so intended recipients can use the data it contains.
5. Deliver – The decrypted file appears on the recipients’ network share.

When files reside on unsecure servers for any amount of time, your business-to-business file transfers are creating undue liability for your company. MFTs can help you eliminate that possibility and stop worrying whether unauthorized parties have access to confidential data.

Application-to-application
Like business-to-business file transfers, application-to-application transfers can involve a variety of arrangements in which files move to and from servers and people. The difference is that the latter is automated and can be either scheduled or event-based.

With that idea in mind, let’s switch gears and say you’re experiencing a different problem: the volume of file transfers you’re obligated to perform is overburdening users and IT staff. What if you could find a way to automate those transfers so that your team could apply its skills to more productive activities?

That’s exactly what one of our clients, a large, non-profit housing association, was able to achieve via MFT. In an effort to streamline communication with attorneys, contractors, and law enforcement, the association automates various file transfers to coincide with specific events – things like the arrival of new tenants, property safety inspections, and the filing of insurance claims.

How does MFT help automate these transfers? By doing all of the following:

• Integrating seamlessly with current business systems and processes
• Monitoring movement of files between data centers
• Ensuring the integrity of files transferred from the association’s servers to those of clients and partners

By improving how application-to-application file transfers take place – and, in some cases, making them possible for the first time – MFT can help you eliminate onerous administration and make communication among disparate platforms faster and more reliable.

Of course, these examples represent just a handful of the file transfer problems we see on a regular basis. Furthermore, issues involving security, reliability, and administrative costs aren’t exclusive to one kind of file transfer over another. They can affect every kind of file transfer. It all depends on the specific setbacks you’re experiencing in the workplace.

What’s certain, however, is that MFT can help. And the longer you tolerate day-to-day file transfer problems, the larger they’re sure to become.

This is the third post in a 10-part series on managing file transfers. Read earlier posts here. Be sure to subscribe to our blog to receive the rest of the series.

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