You probably realize that moving corporate data across the internet in plain text is a vulnerability. Thanks to data protection legislation and industry standards, you also need to be careful about transferring Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about your customers, employees, and associates.
Insider threats and Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) mean that you can’t even be lax about security for file transfers on your own private network. PII needs to be shielded from unintentional disclosure and keeping internal file transfers secure ensures that technicians can’t view data in transit.
Overall, you need to keep data security tight all over your IT system and file transfer mechanisms are part of that environment.
Here is our list of the seven best file transfer software packages:
- SolarWinds Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server EDITOR’S CHOICE This file transfer software is a server and has a free companion FTP client available, offering a full file transfer suite. It runs on Windows Server and Linux.
- Files.com (FREE TRIAL) A cloud-based file management platform that facilitates file sharing, transfers, and storage.
- ExaVault (FREE TRIAL) Use FTPS and SFTP for file movements with this server or use the cloud service to mail out access links to files without moving them.
- Citrix ShareFile This cloud platform manages secure file transfers and can be used for process automation.
- FTP Today A file server system that supports secure file management actions, including file transfers. This is a cloud service.
- ActiveBatch This is a process automation system that includes secure file transfer utilities. Installs on Windows, a VM, or a private cloud.
- Accellion Kiteworks This is a suite of modules for content protection that offers a secure file transfer system. It is implemented as a cloud platform.
What qualifies as secure file transfer software?
A secure file transfer software package needs to incorporate host authentication and transmission encryption. Typically, File transfer systems offer FTPS (File Transfer Protocol/Secure), which is protected by Transport Layer Security (TLS), and SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol), which is protected by the Secure Shell (SSH).
Security isn’t just about encryption; it is also about accountability. File transfer software needs to include action logging in order to be fully compliant with HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, and other data protection standards. The audit value of file transfer logging is only achieved by making each action attributable. That requirement can’t be implemented within your file transfer software without user identification.
The log records of your secure file transfer software should identify each file transfer event with the user account of the transferrer, the source and destination address, termination status, and a timestamp. Many log analyzers and SIEM tools rely on feeds from file transfer software logs for security scanning.
The Best Secure File Transfer Software
The issue of security isn’t specifically an indication of the best secure file transfer software, it is a candidate requirement to just be any file transfer software package that can be regarded as secure. To narrow down the field to a list of the best secure file transfer software packages we applied more scrutiny.
What should you look for in secure file transfer software?
We reviewed the secure file transfer software market and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:
- Multiple secure protocol options
- The option to integrate file transfer commands in scripts for task automation
- Integrations into well-known third-party software and cloud platforms
- A reputable producer
- Logging and auditing
- The ability to assess the software for free
- A good balance between functionality and price
Although secure file transfer software is an essential buy, it won’t be your main software purchase, so getting a good deal on your file transfer software is important. However, you can’t afford to use a cheap package that won’t provide sufficient security.
Serv-U Managed File Transfer Service is one of two secure FTP server options offered by this file server creator. The other is Serv-U File Transfer Server. Of these two services, the Managed Transfer Server package is a more comprehensive security system and offers multiple secure file transfer protocols, whereas the FTP server system offers only one.
The Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server system is a software package for installation on your servers. There is also a free secure FTP client available that works well with this server, this is called FTP Voyager and is highly recommended by many Web hosting services.
The Serv-U system offers FTPS and SFTP as secure file transfer protocols and it is also possible to use HTTPS for transfer protection. The package includes administrator and user interface templates. The administrator can set up individual user accounts for file access. This is important because Serv-U logs every action that occurs on files and records the user involved. Both the administrator console and the user dashboard are browser-based and both are also available through a mobile app.
The file transfer security and activity logging are important features of the Serv-U system because they make the file transfer software suitable for use by businesses that need to comply with data protection standards, such as GDPR, PCI DSS, SOX, and HIPAA.
The file transfer features of Serv-U include the ability to work with either IPv4 or IPv6 addresses or both. It can track file transfers from and to external systems and is suitable for managing the transfers of large files. File transfers can be integrated into automated processes.
This file transfer software installs on Windows Server and Linux. It is offered on a 14-day free trial.
Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server is our top pick for a secure file transfer software package because it combines all of the benefits expected from Web-based systems while being on-premises software. Managing the file transfer fully in-house greatly simplifies the legal requirements for data protection standards., Outsourcing file management functions to third-party businesses complicates the accountability requirements of systems such as PCI DSS and HIPAA because the managed service provider is legally jointly liable in the event of data disclosure. The security options in this system fully protect all files during transfer and the event logging features make security auditing easy.
Get a 14-day free trial: serv-u.com/ftp-server-software/registration
Operating system: Windows Server and Linux
Files.com offers a range of services that derive from a combination of a secure file transfer utility and cloud storage space. The system works as an FTP server – offering a choice of secure protocols, including SFTP, FTPS, and FTPeS. The system can work with a long list of FTP clients, including FileZilla, FTP Voyager, WinSCP, and Cyberduck.
This service enables you to store files securely on the 1,000 GB of storage space that is included with each account. That file storage space is secured with encryption and can only be accessed through user account credentials. Files.com allows the administrator to add 2FA requirements onto access controls.
All of the system is resident in the cloud. That includes the console system, which is accessed by the administrator and users through a Web browser or mobile device. The file transfer software is also hosted in the cloud.
Service configurations possible with Files.com include team collaboration, enabling file sharing. It can interface with a range of cloud platforms, including Amazon S3 and Azure to centralize file storage. This can be used as a store and forward service to reduce the number of transfers that need to be conducted from a site. Users upload one copy of a file to Files.com and then send copies to many recipients.
The service can also be used to secure email attachments. Files.com will intercept emails with attachments, upload the attachment over a secure connection to its server, insert a link for secure access to the file into the email and then send the email on.
Files.com logs all file activities and it is suitable for data protection standards compliance. Files.com will issue a signed Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for customers that are implementing HIPAA or PCI DSS.
The Files.com system can be integrated with cloud storage services, productivity suites, and collaboration systems. It is available for a 7-day free trial.
ExaVault is a cloud platform that offers a range of solutions to secure file sharing and distribution. The package includes a file server, which you can use to deliver files on demand through SFTP or FTPS and also receive files.
Incoming files can be sent as part of automated workflows and the service allows the creation of user accounts, so individuals can securely upload files to their own cloud storage space on the ExaVault system.
The plans available with ExaVault offer enough space that you can use this service as your primary file system. That allows employees, no matter where they are located to save their files there. They can allow access to others, setting a permission level and even specifying an end date for the access. Link sharing can also be used to allow outsiders access to files, which reduces the need to transfer files and that increases security.
ExaVault is available in four plan levels that offer storage space from 1 TB to 10 TB. The service provides access to a user group that can range in size from 10 users to a plan that has no limit on the number of accounts that can be created. You can get to know ExaVault by accessing a 30-day free trial.
Citrix ShareFile is a cloud-based platform that hosts secure file transfer software that providers a Managed File Transfer Service (MFT). All plans include unlimited storage space on the Citrix cloud server, which enables you to give your user community common file folders, secure, store, and forward for file distribution, and collaboration features.
ShareFile’s FTP server uses its own version of FTPS. It can manage the transfer of files of up to 100 GB in size. This is a subscription service that is offered in four plans; high plans include more features, such as integration with Office 365, Outlook, and Gmail. Both the administrator console and the user interface are browser-based. Security features in the Office 365 integration include automatic versioning with changes stored for rollback. The system can also be used for syncing, making local copies available on many devices.
When used in conjunction with an email system, the ShareFile service uploads, and stores any attachments, inserting a link for secure access and sending the email to its recipient. This is the same mechanism used for file distribution. Senders can choose whether to allow read-only access or the ability to download the file. The higher plans include a watermarking system and each copy can be given a serial number for disclosure tracking.
Process automation features include feedback and approvals workflows as well as process scheduling. The system also includes an eSignature facility. Citrix ShareFile is available for a 30-day free trial.
FTP Today is a hosted secure file transfer software system that is suitable for businesses operating to HIPAA, PCI DSS, or GDPR guidelines. The service combines transmission encryption and activity logging to implement strong security. This system can be white-labeled, which makes it attractive for use by Managed Service Providers (MSPs).
The file transfers performed by FTP Today are protected by 2048-bit RSA encryption and can be implemented with SFTP, FTPS, FTPeS, and SCP. The file space on the FTP Today server is protected by 128-bit AES encryption. All activities are recorded and attributed to individual user accounts. The FTP Today data centers are SSAE18 SOC2 audited and all processes are ISO 27001 certified.
The FTP Today service offers each customer a virtual private cloud. Although each client gets completely independent space on the FTP Today server, there are system-wide processes operating security software for the entire FTP Today server. These include firewalls, separated operating systems, and an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) that protects data from disclosure or theft.
Security measures available in the administrator dashboard allow businesses to tighten security further. These include automatic blocks on access to files if an authorized user goes out of the country. This is called geofencing and it restricts access to files to a user’s located in a specified place. It is also possible to restrict access to specific devices. That permission can be easily revoked and it is also possible to block access from specified domains or IP addresses.
FTP Today will provide a signed BAA to customers operating HIPAA or PCI DSS standards that subscribe to the Premium edition. User account validation processes available in the Premium plan include 2FA and the ability to tie FTP Today accounts into the corporate Single Sign-On environment.
ActiveBatch is a job scheduling and workflow automation system that includes a secure file transfer system. The secure file transfer software in the ActiveBatch package is available for installation on Windows, as a virtual appliance, or for a private cloud installation. Access to the system is through any standard browser. File transfers can be integrated into workflows to create extensive task automation.
The process automation feature in ActiveBatch creates reusable modules. So, you can set up a secure file transfer process and schedule it for periodic execution, performing admin tasks, such as transferring files to an archive. Once you have created a module, you can call it from other workflows.
The secure protocols offered by ActiveBatch are SFTP and FTPS. The tool tracks all file transfer activities, which makes this a suitable file manager for companies that implement SOX, HIPAA, PCI DSS, or GDPR.
The ActiveBatch system can be used for a range of purposes, such as file sharing, file distribution, backup, and syncing. The user interface for the service includes an easy-to-use workflow assembly screen that includes drag-and-drop actions to assemble actions and functions into a batch. The system also includes a scheduler with a range of possible triggers, including the system clock, to launch workflows unattended. Modules that can be included in a workflow include integrations that give access to the services of ERPs, databases, and email systems.
The file transfer system can interface with other cloud platforms, such as Azure and AWS. File transfer facilities include recovering a transfer from a dropped connection, pause, and resume, parallel transfers, and simultaneous copying to distribute a file to many destinations.
You can access a demo system to assess ActiveBatch.
Accellion Kiteworks is a “content firewall.” This cloud platform offers a range of data protection services, which includes a secure file transfer system. As a hosted system, this file transfer software is offered as a subscription service and includes the processing power and storage space needed to support the package.
All files are protected by 256-bit AES encryption, both during transmission and on the Accellion server in the account storage space. File storage is an optional feature – customers can choose to base the file protection service on a different cloud platform’s storage space.
Kiteworks can be integrated with Office 365 and Outlook to manage email attachments and provide a secure collaboration suite. The owner of a file gets notified if others make changes to it. Each version of a file that gets distributed is stamped with a serial number. That makes disclosure investigation a lot easier to perform. Actions on files also get logged and are listed in the Kiteworks administrator dashboard.
As well as being offered as a cloud service, Kiteworks can be taken as a software package for installation onsite or on a private cloud. The system is suitable for businesses that are following HIPAA or PCI DSS. Accellion Kiteworks has ISO 27001 certification and is validated to FIPS 140-2 Level 1.
Kiteworks is charged for by subscription service at a rate per user per month. You can get a demo to assess the system.