A staggering 24,000 gigabytes worth of data is uploaded on the internet in a single second. In essence, that data is being shared from one device to a data center that’s potentially based in another corner of the globe.
Billions of dollars’ worth of data is shared between continents on a daily basis. At the same time, a whopping 37 billion user records were compromised in 2020, a 141% increase from 2019.
With data being transmitted from left to right at lightning speeds, it’s worth mentioning that not all data that’s being transferred from one device to another is secure.
What is Secure File Transfer?
Secure file transfer, or SFT, is the sharing of data via a secure, foolproof method. SFT is used to protect patented data and personal data that’s either in transfer or stationary mode.
Secure file sharing is achieved via the use of secure protocols. These secure file sharing protocols are as follows:
Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)
SFTP is an encrypted network protocol that transfers files via the Secure Shell (SSH) connection. This protocol is great for networks that lack online security. The protocol also prevents the network from openly transmitting sensitive information.
File Transfer Protocol – Secure (FTPS)
FTPS is a popular file sharing protocol that offers top-notch encryption to secure the online connection. FTPS employs an application layer, commonly referred to as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). This enables users to securely communicate over the internet.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol – Secure (HTTPS)
HTTPS is a widely recognized protocol that establishes a secure connection with sites that engage in sensitive information like credit card details, phone numbers, and other personal information. HTTPS offers several layers of data protection that keep your connection private.
Applicability Statement 2 (AS2)
AS2 facilitates the transmission of data over the HTTP or HTTPS protocol. AS2 is used to transfer Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) messages and other forms of electronic data in real-time.
Advantages and Disadvantages of File Sharing
Sure file sharing is convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost. Here are the advantages as well as the disadvantages of file sharing:
|Enables users to transfer large files over the internet.||Bandwidth consumption can be expensive and time-consuming.|
|Allows real-time collaboration with people from around the world.||Inability to track down what happens to a file once it has been publicly shared online.|
|Ability to access the data remotely.||Increased chances of infecting the file with a virus or a malware.|
According to statistics, nearly 39% of cloud business data is for file sharing purposes. About 60% of files that are uploaded to a file sharing service are mostly uploaded as a backup copy and not for file sharing purposes.
While file sharing isn’t reserved for businesses, they do amount to a large sum of data that is transmitted over the internet. Average internet users share files with others either via WhatsApp, Google Drive, or other convenient file-sharing options.
Types of File Sharing
Although file sharing is a convenient way to transfer small and large files, choosing the right method and protocol is essential for the security of the file. When sharing a file over the internet, verify the type of file you’re about to share and who will be receiving the file.
Let’s dive into the file sharing options and understand situations where they would come in handy.
Peer to Peer (P2P)
P2P is the most popular application architecture that eliminates the need for a central server that hosts the data. With P2P, individual users can conveniently connect to a wide range of scattered networks of peers and exchange in file transfers through the internet.
The TOR browser is a classic example of P2P where users maintain their online anonymity via the help of distributed nodes. Although many question the authenticity of TOR’s P2P environment, it’s still widely preferred by security experts over conventional browsers.
Cloud services operate similar to cloud based backup solutions. When you upload a data to the cloud’s central repository, you’re essentially backing it up with the ability to share the data with other users who have been given access to the document.
Other users can download the files to their own devices as well as work along on the files in real-time. However, the data is hosted by a third party, such as Google or Microsoft. Google has its service called Google Drive and Microsoft has its One Drive with the option of setting permission levels on the files for privacy.
This might come as a surprise, but email services function as file transfer options. The way this works is pretty simple, each time you attach a document to an outbound email, you are essentially transferring data from one user to another over the internet.
Email services, such as Google, Outlook, and others provide file transfer options. However, you cannot transfer large files over an email as there are certain data limits. For example, Google allows users to send up to 25MB in attachments. If your file size is larger than 25 MB, Gmail automatically adds a Google Drive link in the email instead of including it as an attachment.
Data Storage Options
Not all file transfer/data storage options are online. There are offline file sharing options as well, such as hard drives and USB drives. Many intelligence agencies resort to offline options as they tend to be much safer than online file transfers.
For offline options, you simply have to copy the data you wish to transfer/backup to a USB flash drive or external hard drive and then later plug that device into another device. By doing so, you copy data from one point and paste it to another.
Top Secure File Transfer Options
There are several secure file sharing options, but only a few top the list for offering a user-friendly interface along with a secure file transfer system.
The box is a globally renowned secure cloud content management service based in Redwood City, California. The box focuses on offering users a secure file transfer solution as is primarily geared towards businesses and enterprises.
Their free plan offers 10GB of storage with a 250MB max of file upload limit. With a decent internet connection, you can upload a 200MB file in about 45 seconds. On the other hand, their paid plans are 100GB, $10/month and for businesses, it’s either $5/user/month for 100GB to $25/user/month for unlimited storage.
2. Google Drive
Google Drive is Google’s brainchild that’s deeply integrated into Google’s ecosystem. It offers users a secure file transfer option along with a convenient backup solution. Each Google user is assigned a 15GB free storage which they can utilize to backup data and make secure file transfers.
What’s interesting about Google Drive is that you can collaborate with others on documents in real-time. Google offers exciting pricing plans for paid users such as 100GB for $1.99/month, 1TB for $9.99/month and 10TB for $99.99/month.
Google’s entire ecosystem is pretty secure with two-factor authentication, Google Authenticator and other secure tools in place.
Dropbox is one of the oldest and accredited backup/secure file sharing options. Similar to Google Drive, you can share files and collaborate with others in real-time. Unlike Box, Dropbox focuses on individuals and SMEs while catering to businesses as well.
Dropbox is affordable for individuals with 2TB costing only $10/month. Its business plan costs $15/user/month for unlimited storage. It only offers 2GB as free storage. You can now integrate Google Docs, Sheets and Slides files with Dropbox and collaborate with shared users in real-time.
ShareFile was acquired by Citrix in 2011 and is since named Citrix ShareFile. The custom secure file-sharing site enables users to share files easily with clients, partners, co-workers, and other users.
The service is most famous among business users with features and tools catering to businesses. These tools include workflow management, document collaboration, e-signatures and seamless integration with Gmail and Outlook.
They offer topnotch security with customizable permission settings and the best part is that you can use the service for 30 days without giving any credit card details. However, they don’t offer any storage for a free plan. Their paid plan starts at $10/month for unlimited storage.
5. Microsoft OneDrive
Microsoft’s backup and file sharing service have had many names in the past. From Windows Live Folders to SkyDrive to now OneDrive, the existing name suits well. OneDrive features to both individuals and businesses who wish to securely back up their data and make secure file transfers.
Each individual Microsoft account comes packed with 5GB free storage. Their paid storage options are interesting, such as a Microsoft 365 Family plan consisting of 6 users with each getting 1TB costs $99/year. Their OneDrive Standalone 100GB plan costs $1.99/month.
All in all, the aforementioned secure file transfer services are renowned for maintaining security of user data whether it’s backed up sitting idle or users collaborating with others in real-time.
A secure file sharing service can be hugely beneficial for your individual and work endeavors. All you need is an internet-enabled device and an internet connection to get going with your file transfers.
Whether the data needs to be shared with clients or family members, you can rely on the secure file sharing options to maintain the secrecy of your valuable data. However, keep in mind that data is only secure if you keep it secure so make sure to have additional security practices in place, such as two-factor authentication, etc.