You know what else is certain in life other than birth, death and change?
The fact that your enterprise files need to be secured—both in transit and at rest (unless, of course, you’ve been living under a rock all this time). But sometimes achieving gilt-edged enterprise data security may feel like sprinting through a swamp.
To newcomers, the terminologies that dominate the managed enterprise secure file transfer realm are daunting at best—secure file transfer, regulatory compliance, managed file transfer (MFT), password sprawl… Heck, even those bombastic words in the field of law aren’t that stutter-inducing. But the ultimate goal of enterprise data security is simple: Protecting enterprise files and data in the most effective way possible.
When the file security bell rings, the first thing you want to turn to is a robust, well-fleshed-out data security strategy. This is your North Star, your Polaris. It’s your point of reference when the intricacies of data security prove too slippery or daunting to grasp. Or in those solemn moments when FTPS and SFTP feel like one and the same thing (hint: they’re absolutely not the same). In other words, you need to have a solid file security strategy in place if you’re to get any closer to your cybersecurity and productivity goals.
Kickstart your journey to the crest of the data security mountain by acquainting yourself with these six key components—components that should form the gist of any file protection strategy out there.
Component #1: An Award-Winning MFT Solution
A little bit of a surprise, I know…
However, in the context of file security, an MFT solution is the fabric that holds everything together. If your file security strategy was a house, MFT would probably be the foundation, and without it, your structure would crumble upon the slightest provocation. If it was a car, MFT would probably be the engine, responsible for galvanizing the automotive and pushing it to great distances.
Sure, files are most vulnerable when they’re in transit. But that doesn’t mean they’re any safer while at rest. Your file security strategy should incorporate an MFT that effectively protects data both in transit and at rest (MOVEit Transfer users, you’re most welcome.).
Now you’re probably asking: “How do I differentiate legit MFTs from wishy-washy ones?”
Well, we thought you wouldn’t ask.
An MFT solution worth its weight in gold should incorporate all of these advanced security features (and it’s not even up for debate):
- Detailed audit logs
- Proven encryption (FIPS 140-2 AES-256 cryptography)
- Delivery confirmation
- Hardened platform configurations
- Multi-factor user authentication
With these MFT capabilities in check, you’ve already aced half the trek— you can now work your way to the pinnacle of your file security mountain with the remaining components (relax, you’ve got this!).
Component #2: A Well-Ideated Cybersecurity Awareness Program
It will blow your mind to know how much a single piece of sensitive information goes for on the dark web. And no, it’s not a few dozen dollars.
Bring data breaches into the conversation, and the numbers escalate quickly to the regions of millions. According to IBM, data breach costs are at an all-time high, with global figures averaging $4.24 million for 2021. If pictures are worth a thousand words, numbers are probably worth a million more (in cyber terms, of course).
Inevitably, your file security strategy needs to weave in a cybersecurity awareness program that takes these data breach numbers into serious consideration. They say the best way to learn is with tangible evidence. The numbers are there. Now the ball is squarely on your court.
Being aware means your organization recognizes what cyber threats they could face, how each threat impacts the business and the steps to minimize exposure and risk. It’s that simple, really.
No employee should be excluded from this exercise. That way, they can all stay up-to-date on the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape and desist from making negligent or otherwise stupid mistakes that might leave the entire company grasping at straws (think: hefty fines from industry associations, public humiliation, lost customer trust and so on).
At the very minimum, your cybersecurity awareness program should incorporate these key elements:
- Education on the different types of cyber threats
- Secure password policies combined with multifactor authentication
- Threat recognition and response training
- Regular vulnerability testing
Component #3: References to Relevant Legislations
Although we’re still a long way out from the finish line, our enterprise file security strategy is slowly taking shape. And that’s good. This next component is crucial to its outlook and structure, so don’t dare sweep it under the carpet.
There are a number of different pieces of legislation that will or may affect your organization’s file security procedures. You don’t expect the government and related industry associations to turn a blind eye on those sensitive customer files you handle on a daily, or do you?
Top of the pile in this regard is GDPR, and it’s one of those regulations whose snares are far-reaching and devastating. GDPR is all about protecting data and ensuring privacy, and much of this personal information is in files—files you regularly send to and receive from customers, trading partners, and third parties. Every file you send without end-to-end security, encryption, and the ability to track and audit is a potential breach waiting to happen—and a possible GDPR violation. In other words, it’s a ticking time bomb.
References to a legislation like GDPR are key to ensuring your organization doesn’t tread the thin, red line that EU has so clearly drawn. Other compliance regulations that deserve a spot in your file security strategy include:
- PCI DSS (2006)
- HIPAA (1996)
- SOC 2 (2009)
Component #4: Responsibilities, Rights, and Duties of Data Security Personnel
File security, in and of itself, is a huge, all-encompassing juggernaut that incorporates personnel not just from IT, but from many different quarters. There’s Paul the programmer who can manipulate file control permissions and controls at the snap of a finger. There’s Jake the cyber guru who can spot phishing attacks from a mile out. Then there’s Kimberly the network administrator who works round the clock to ensure files are never at risk while in transit.
Look. We’re not saying these personnel will fumble at their jobs if they don’t have a document from which they can look up their roles and responsibilities. Rather, they need a framework that’s much bigger than what they do. A policy of sorts that maps their roles and responsibilities onto the overarching business goals. And that’s none other than a file security strategy.
So when you’re crafting your data security framework from scratch, keep in mind that your IT personnel, like all the components mentioned above, need to be thrown right in the mix. After all, human error has a well-documented history of causing data breaches. In 2019 alone, human error was reportedly the cause of 90% of all data breaches in the UK. You sure as heck wouldn’t want your IT personnel and other employees to add to this statistic.
Component #5: Purpose
No surprise here, given that no successful human venture in history ever started without a purpose.
Similarly, your file security strategy needs to be built on a strong sense of purpose and direction. What exactly do you want to achieve? Maybe you want to stifle out the cyber-attackers that have been slaloming your networks for months now. Or perhaps you’re fueled by the irrepressible desire to preserve consumer data privacy and stay in the good graces of the law. Whatever your purpose is, it needs to be expressed in bold in the echelons of your security strategy.
But just in case you’re stuck, these basic reasons for creating a data security strategy will have you up and running in no time:
- To establish a general approach to information and data security.
- To detect and forestall the compromise of file security such as misuse of passwords, mishandling of sensitive data, and so on.
- To protect the reputation of the company with respect to its ethical and legal responsibilities.
- To observe the privacy of customers’ data without compromise, prejudice or favor.
Component #6: Scope
Now you can almost touch the summit of our hypothetical file security mountain. It’s been a long journey, and finishing with scope as the final piece of the puzzle only makes counterintuitive sense.
Other than the five key components mentioned here, your file security strategy should address all programs, networks, protocols and tools (hello again, ol’ friend MOVEit) responsible for holding or moving files in your organization. And it should so with zero exceptions. It’s this level of attention to detail that sets apart secure and compliant organizations from attack-prone ones.
In addition, your security strategy should also bring into perspective third parties, employees and novice users that interact with enterprise files at every level of their existence—be it at rest, in motion or in use. We won’t tire of saying this one truth: Your data’s biggest nemesis exists right under your nose. Having a bird’s eye view of your entire file protection infrastructure is an important step in disarming this well-known nemesis (hint: it’s the human element).
Let MOVEit MFT Lead Your File Security Charge
Us starting with MFT on our list today wasn’t in any way a coincidence. An MFT like MOVEit Transfer incorporates a good chunk of these components, and then some.
Tired of spectating and ready to grab an equal seat at the table of secure file transfer aficionados? Want an MFT that actually walks the talk and leaves no data protection stone unturned? You know the name—it’s MOVEit.