I need to complete a large file transfer, do you have a USB stick…uh, No that is so 2000’s!
Like all Americans, I recently completed my taxes and in the processes myaccountant asked if I would get her my QuickBook files. I told her “Sure, how would you like me to transfer those to you?” Her response was, “How about dropping off a USB (Thumb Drive) Device!” I was shocked to say the least! A USB Drive, this idea is so 2000’s!
I make light of the situation, but in reality it is a standard practice to transfer files between one person and another is to use some sort of removable media (USB, Flash Card, etc..) or just e-mail it. Each of these options is able to meet your needs, but the question needs to b asked, how secure or safe is this transfer. So then the next obvious question is, “Ok Mr. Brilliant, what are my options?”
Basically, you have two options to send your documents to your recipient:
- Direct– Basically, you are sending a file directly to your intended recipient and these different methods have evolved over time, but they have become the cornerstone for moving files around the internet. Examples E-mail, Secure File Transfer (SFTP), or the oldie but goodie File Transfer Protocol (FTP).
- Pros:These solutions have been used FOREVER (Pause for Effect), and are used daily by millions of people. They just plain work and in most cases (Email is the exception) the files get there 99% of the time.
- Cons:They are old, just saying! They are not as user friendly as possible (Drag and Drop), the security options are limited or are a bit clunky. Some will argue that E-mail is easy to use (Which it is), but the integrity of the message and overall security is an afterthought and is not really used to the level it needs to be.
- Strategy:If this is your method for transferring files between recipients then there are some key things you must really consider when sending these files
- SFTP– Use this as much as possible. Your communications are encrypted and protected while they are being transferred.
- PasswordProtect – Files (Especially Sensitive Ones) should be encrypted before being sent out, especially when using FTP or E-mail.
- Encryption– If you are using the more open or unsecure options (FTP/E-mail) then if you can encrypt the information prior to leaving your grubby little hands, the better!
- Indirect– In most cases (Except for total nerds of the group), this is done through a 3rd Party or vendor (i.e. Cloud) that acts as the intermediate when you want to send large files. In many cases, you are unable to accomplish these large file transfers using e-mail (Pictures of the Kids, especially) and so the need for having a third party, usually in the cloud, store your files for later use was born.
- Secure Transfer– Most providers (Anyone worth its salt) will use secure methods to transfer the information.
- Flexible– The storage of data within the cloud allows you to have access to your information anywhere in the world.
- Control of your Data– Keeping it one location protects from “orphan” data being circulated around and potentially lost.
- Privacy– There can be various concerns over data privacy and regulatory compliance regarding and how the information is protected while it is stored.
- Loss of Control– You are probably saying….wait, you said it was a Pro!? It is a double edge sword. Unless proper protections are in place, you do stand the risk of losing your data, so it is important to have a good strategy in place when using the cloud.
- Strategy:Like anything in life everyone has a opinion, but the key here is to pick on and stick with it. In addition you need to keep in mind the “Gotcha’s” that can reach out and bite you (Data Privacy and Disclosure, Regulatory issues).
- Data Privacy, Disclosure, Regulatory Issues:These issues can be very gradual and in some cases you may not even know you are in hot water, especially when transferring data betweencountries! In the United States we have a plethora of regulation and if your data is regulated or managed by them you need to understand how they affect you and your business.
Bottom-line: If you own a business it is a really smart idea to come up with some sort strategy or idea around how you want to share files/data to individuals outside of your company and then stick with it. It is easier than ever to send and share files with other people and before you know it you can put your customer’s data in a bad position.
Have a blessed day!