ServersThe Militarization of File Transfers

The Militarization of File Transfers




Enhanced File Transfer: Enterprise-grade, secure file transfer server

GlobalSCAPE’s latest offering, Enhanced File Transfer server, is designed for demanding environments where data integrity and security are paramount. Comparing it with GlobalSCAPE’s other FTP server is akin to placing the suburban Hummer H2 next to the militarized Humvee.

Since acquiring the well-known CuteFTP family of file transfer products, GlobalSCAPE has vertically expanded its reach into the enterprise. It now offers two enhanced FTP servers with an enterprise orientation: Secure FTP Server, which we previously reviewed, and Enhanced File Transfer (EFT).

The core file transfer protocol (FTP) is an Internet old-timer, but even though plain-vanilla FTP is sufficient for the basic task of moving a file from Machine A to Machine B, it leaves much to be desired when it comes to security, data integrity, auditing, and all the extras that bring robustness and reliability to the process.

Secure FTP and Enhanced File Transfer share much in common, as they are built on the same architecture. However, where Secure FTP extends its reach with a limited set of enterprise features, Enhanced File Transfer goes all the way, and includes both security features that were add-ons to Secure FTP (such as SSH2 support), and several additional features unavailable in Secure FTP.

What separates EFT from the pack, however, is how far it goes beyond these typical enhancements.

Like its little older brother, EFT Secure is a trim download at 5.5 MB. It installs into less than 10 MB of space. Its standard InstallShield wizard is a breeze, with basic setup questions enabling the server to be up and running in minutes, literally. The server consists of two components — the Windows service and an administration client. EFT installations can be administered remotely with the Windows-only EFT administration client but not through a Web browser.

EFT includes all of the features expected from an advanced file transfer server — user authentication (proprietary or Windows-based) and granular privileges, including disk quotas, bandwidth limits, IP filtering, and virtual permissions superimposed on top of the “real” operating system permissions for a given file or folder. What separates EFT from the pack, however, is how far it goes beyond these typical enhancements.

For example, EFT supports both the FTP and HTTP protocols, which is why GlobalSCAPE calls it a “file transfer” server rather than an FTP server. In both cases, the secure SFTP (SSH2) and SSL or HTTP/S protocols are supported for secure transfers. EFT can also use OpenPGP to encrypt or decrypt files at the end of their journey. For the ultra-paranoid, EFT supports OTP, or One-Time Passwords, with supporting clients.

Beyond security, EFT can perform CRC checks on transferred files to verify their integrity. To improve bandwidth efficiency, EFT breaks up large files into small chunks, transferring them simultaneously across the network. This is similar to how client-side “download helpers” (e.g., ReGet and DAP) behave, except EFT takes advantage of this efficiency from the server side.

Secure FTP and EFT may be built on the same chassis, but comparing them is akin to placing the suburban Hummer H2 next to the militarized Humvee.

Also, unlike Secure FTP, EFT can automatically offload transferred files into a secure network, removing them from the externally accessible server as soon as the transfer is complete. Clearly, this is the kind of high-level robustness that speaks to highly specialized environments. Both EFT and Secure FTP share a handy event rules model. Administrators can define rules, such as “send an e-mail alert” when a certain event takes place, like the completion of a file transfer. In some cases EFT’s rules allow more flexibility; for example, only EFT can e-mail an alert arbitrarily to multiple recipients rather than only the administrator.

There is one especially large difference between Secure FTP and EFT — the price tag. Fully optioned, Secure FTP listed for about $600; EST is nearly $10,000. The reasoning is clear, Secure FTP and EFT may be built on the same chassis, but comparing them is akin to placing the suburban Hummer H2 next to the militarized Humvee. EFT is designed for the most demanding environments where absolute data integrity and security are required.

Pros: Military-strength file transfer integrity and security; Well-designed administration client; Clear documentation.
Cons: The price.

Reviewed by: Aaron Weiss
Original Review Date: 02/24/2005
Original Review Version: 3.0

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