Let’s start with the basics:
What is SFTP?

SFTP is a secure file transfer protocol - that’s what the acronym actually stands for.

It has been around since the late 1990s and is a successor to FTP, the original file transfer protocol. It is based on SSH (Secure Shell), which is the standard way to connect to UNIX/LINUX servers. SFTP works in a client-server architecture, meaning that a client connects to a server and uploads files to it or downloads files from it. While using an SFTP client you can also list or delete files, create directories, and change file ownership and permissions.

Why do people and organizations use SFTP?

  • Security - it’s vital for organizations to secure their data. SFTP encrypts all communication between the client and the server.
    You can use username and password authentication, but the more popular option is to use private/public key authentication, which is even more secure (that is, if you keep your private key private).
  • Accessibility - if you have an existing Linux server, SFTP is built into it - no need to install extra software.
  • Simplicity - if you know your way around FTP, SFTP should feel oddly familiar because other than using a different port, the commands are just the same. GUI FTP clients, such as the popular FileZilla or Cyberduck, support SFTP as well.
  • Automation - using the sftp command line interface, it’s easy to automate the uploading and downloading of files from any SFTP server. There are also libraries available for any programming language to help developers connect and interact with SFTP servers.

Because of its superior security, organizations of all industries use the SFTP protocol to exchange files. Let’s discuss a few examples:

Healthcare

For healthcare organizations, security has always been a concern when exchanging sensitive medical information. Transferring files containing healthcare-related information such as electronic medical records and test results to third parties (insurance companies, other healthcare organizations, etc.). These organizations must protect health information as mandated within the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) legislation. Failing to comply with HIPAA regulations can lead to severe penalties while SFTP plays a role in HIPAA compliance by providing secure access to sensitive data, and only to the parties who should access the data.

Dr. Herbstein uploads sensitive information to the hospital's SFTP server (not really!)
Dr. Herbstein feels quite confident no one will ever know about her hematophobia because her secret is protected by the SFTP server. (Photo by NCI on Unsplash)

Retail

Most retail companies have a vast amount of data: inventory, supply orders, and customer information on file and information that they share with 3rd parties, including global partners, and suppliers in addition to data shared between different their own warehouses and business units as part of their supply chain management. Whenever data is shared across the public network, it should be encrypted, so SFTP is the perfect fit.

I hope they're using SFTP in their supply chain, It's payday and my new credit card is here (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)
I hope they're using SFTP in their supply chain, It's payday and my new credit card is here (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

In addition, automation of data transfer operations and data synchronization between departments and third parties are simplified using SFTP.

Media

The importance of security in the Media & Entertainment industry is continuously increasing in parallel to the growing consumption of content around the world.

Distributing video files without using SFTP, is like going to the movies sans popcorn
Distributing video files without using SFTP, is like going to the movies sans popcorn. (Photo by Pixabay from Pexels)

Secure distribution of video files and selective levels of commercially sensitive data are required in order to prevent data leakage, such as pre-released content and other malicious threats. Combining SFTP with a DRM (Digital Rights Management) solution will help obtain secure file sharing and continuous data protection. For your amusement and some laughs, check out this list of  “The 9 biggest movie leaks ever”.

So, is SFTP still relevant?

Yes and it’s becoming even more relevant as we write about it!

Not only is SFTP here to stay, it’s growing in popularity each day in response to the increasing amount of data and information sharing. Data protection, privacy regulations, and other relevant legislation impacts the way organizations of all verticals go about protecting their sensitive data, especially that which pertains to us! It requires expertise and a reliable system, which is where SFTP takes the lead.

Then there’s SFTP To Go

SFTP To Go is a fully managed SFTP as a service:

  • End-to-end security - Files are encrypted not only in transit but also at rest.
  • Scalable and durable limitless storage - SFTP To Go uses Amazon S3 as storage, so you can rest assured that your data stays intact and dealing with a massive volume of data will not be problematic since you never run out of disk space.
  • Manage users and credentials easily and automatically - Including password rotation or public/private key authentication.
  • Webhook notifications - You can use webhooks to automate your data processes - start a process every time a file is created, modified or deleted.
  • One-Click setup - Yes, it’s as simple as that. And there are no servers to maintain as well.
  • More ways to access files - How about an Amazon S3 endpoint to interact with your data over HTTPS with Amazon S3 APIs?
    For you FTPS lovers out there, Why not add an FTPS endpoint?

To conclude, SFTP is not only still relevant but also the smart choice for ensuring the secure transfer of files.

Want to give SFTP To Go a try? Click here to sign up.


Cute Pomeranian checking out SFTP To GO Photo by Cookie the Pom on Unsplash