How to Choose the Best Regulatory Compliant FTP Software
Data security is crucial for many companies, especially ones in the medical, financial and government-regulated sectors. When you fail to comply with applicable regulations, you could face a number of risks including fines, loss of business, damage to your reputation, and in the most extreme cases, jail time.
To prevent these risks, you need a robust IT compliance policy and an FTP solution that facilitates compliance to all applicable regulations. However, with so many file sharing solutions on the market, how can you be sure you’re selecting the best for your needs?
Is your data security compliance policy robust enough?
Use this free template to build an effective data security and IT compliance policy.
Protecting PHI (personal health information) is one of the major objectives of any business in the healthcare industry. So, when you’re looking for a regulatory compliant FTP software, you must ensure it has all the features in place to adequately and vigilantly protect PHI, so you don’t fall out of compliance with HIPAA standards.
Explore some of the HIPAA compliance features you should look for in an FTP solution.
- Access Controls. Granting and restricting user access to your sensitive data is essential for defending against hackers or preventing unintentional leaks from occurring. You need granular access controls over file sharing, and you need the ability to automatically log users off the site.
Another essential access control you need is the ability to establish and enact emergency access procedure. In the event of an emergency like a natural disaster, fire, system failure, or terrorism, companies need procedures in place (like off-site backups) to ensure crucial data isn’t lost.
- Audit Controls. The ability to audit and evaluate how data is accessed and used is vital for companies maintaining HIPAA compliance. Evaluating detailed logs and histories of who is accessing your data and for what purpose gives you a comprehensive view of activity related to your PHI. In the event of an issue, you can always check the file history for information on who accessed files and when.
- Person Authentications. Before a user can access data, you need to verify that they are who they claim to be using either passwords or SSH keys. And, even when two or more users have access to the same folder and files, HIPAA requires that each person log in with different credentials. With proper user authentication, you can mitigate fraudulent access to data. Also, by using complex authentication methods, you increase protection against hackers.
- Encryption. Strong SSL encryption security protects your data while in transit. Ensure that the regulatory compliant FTP softwares you’re considering offer 256-bit or higher encryption strength. The more keys you add to encryption strength, the more difficult it is for hackers to penetrate. HIPAA also requires the use of at-rest (file) encryption.
The chief aim of compliance with the International Traffic and Arms Regulations (ITAR) is to prevent sensitive data from falling into the hands of foreign entities. ITAR exerts control over how defense-related articles and services on the US Munitions List (USML) are shared and transferred. If your organization deals with any items on the USML or conducts business with the United States government, staying ITAR compliant is essential.
While the responsibility is on your employees and your company to remain ITAR compliant, top FTP providers offer capabilities that make that objective an easier one to achieve. One of the most important features you should look for in a regulatory compliant FTP software is geo-blocking capabilities. The power to technological deny access to your data by country and to require each user to originate from a specific IP address ensure the safe, secure, and domestic transfer of data. You no longer have to worry about employees accidentally sending data to entities outside of the country and potentially violating ITAR standards.
Companies working in the financial sector are highly familiar with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), an IT security standard that protects cardholders’ personal payment information. Like PHI, cardholder data is an enticing and valuable prize for any hacker, so financial companies need to go to extra lengths to protect this data.
Discover the essential features your regulatory compliant FTP software needs to remain PCI DSS compliant.
- Transmission Encryption. It’s imperative that cardholder data remains secure in transit. With strong SSL encryption security, like 265-bit or higher encryption strength, you’ll have the ability to prevent hackers from gaining access to your data being transferred between your employee or to your clients.
- Secure Passwords. Passwords are one of the most vulnerable aspects of any IT solution. PSCI DSS mandates that you should not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords, so you need a regulatory compliant FTP software that aligns with this standard. FTP Today, for example, never uses default system passwords.
Enforcing other secure password measures is important, too. Top FTP solutions enable you to regulate the strength and the expiration timeframe of your users’ passwords.
- Firewall and Infrastructure. Look for an FTP solution that features a PCI-DSS certified (VISA approved) infrastructure. This is your first and strongest line of defense against hackers, and it’s essential that you use an FTP solution with an impenetrable firewall.
- User Access Control. Controlling who is able to access data and from what location is vital for protecting cardholder data. As your workforce becomes increasingly mobile, you need granular user access controls like the ability to restrict individual access by remote IP address and/or by protocol. You also need the workplace permission capabilities. This includes regulating upload, download, delete, and directory listing permissions.
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) of 1999 is another set of regulations put in place to protect consumer data and financial information. Based on this regulation, financial companies must take IT security measures to protect consumers from threats to their personal data.
To achieve this level of GLBA IT security, you need to following features in a regulatory compliant FTP software.
- Encryption. Protect your data in transit with enterprise-level encryption standards. This includes having 265-bit or higher encryption strength.
- Authentication Control. User authentication using a strong password or, even better an SSH-key, ensures that data is only being accessed by the intended user.
- Access Controls. Controlling who accesses data and from what location gives you the ability to stop hackers in their tracks. You also need the power to control upload, download, delete, and directory listing permissions.
- Auditing. Finally, if a breach does occur or you just want a detailed view of your file sharing history, you need advanced auditing capabilities. This enables you to better understand how consumer data is being accessed and used.
The Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) is a law dealing with the accuracy of corporate financial records, and the IT controls used to verify those records. This makes auditing capabilities imperative for your regulatory compliant FTP software. Some auditing essentials include on-demand reports outlining recent activity, and detailed logs accounting for your company’s file sharing history. In addition to the security standards outlined by other financial entity regulations, these advanced reporting capabilities protect your company in the event of an audit.
If you want to mitigate the risk of failing to comply with essential government regulations, you need to adopt an FTP solution that facilitates compliance. Carefully research the regulations that apply to your company, and be sure to select an FTP solution that meets your needs.
Does your company need to build a robust data security compliance policy? Use this template to make the process easier and more efficient.
About Martin Horan
Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.