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A Complete Guide To SSH File Transfer Protocol

In this highly digitized world, numerous data threats are just lurking around the internet. Hackers can hijack a server, intercept login credentials, and tamper with critical data in transfer or are already stored in a server. 

Fortunately, SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) services like https://www.goanywhere.com/managed-file-transfer/file-server/sftp-server offer protection against malicious attacks at any point in your data transfer process. This makes it the preferred protocol for File Transfer Protocols (FTP) and operations. 

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SFTP: What Is It?

SFTP is a different kind of FTP that’s packaged with a Secure Shell Protocol (SSH). It works the same way as FTP but uses a secure connection. This is why SFTP is preferable to FTP in almost all cases, thanks to its security features and the ability to piggyback on SSH connections.  

SFTP supports file transfer, file access, and file management functionalities without data channels or command. Both commands and data are encrypted and transferred in specially formatted binary pockets through a single, secured connection via SSH.

SFTP Servers and Clients

Before you can use the SFTP, you’ll need an SFTP server and a client. 

An SFTP server is where files are stored and where a client can connect and retrieve these files from. It allows storing and transferring of data securely using SSH file transfer protocol in order to keep the connection safe.

Meanwhile, an SFTP client is the software that allows you to connect to the server. It allows you to upload files to be stored on the server as well as downloading the files that are already stored there. 

How SFTP Works?

Here’s how an SFTP connection works, including its authentication process:

Basic authentication requires the user password and ID from the SFTP client user in order to connect to the SFTP server. The SSH authentication can also use SSH keys and authenticate SFTP connections in combination with, or instead of a user password and ID. The SSH private key and public key pair are required in this case. 

You can generate a key pair on the SFTP client and copy the public key to the SFTP server. The Popular SSH and Telnet Client (PuTTY) generates a signature using your private key once the server authenticates your connection. Meanwhile, the server, with that matching public key can then verify the signature and authenticate your connection. 

So, even if the SFTP server is spoofed or hacked, the attacker obtains only one signature and not your password or private key. And since signatures can’t be reused, hackers would gain nothing. 

Benefits of SFTP

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Here’s a list of benefits of SFTP;

  • Highest Level of Protection

Perhaps the most obvious advantage of using SFTP is security. If you are dealing with sensitive or confidential documents, then SFTP is one of your best options. It comes with several security mechanisms like encryption, public key authentication, host authentication, authenticity checks, and data integrity checks. 

SFTP was designed to be secure. So, whenever you’re sending sensitive files via SFTP, you can rest assured that the risk of any unauthorized alteration or disclosure during transmission can be minimized.  

  • Efficient and Speedy

An SFTP server supports large file transfers very efficiently and easily. Several files can be transferred from server to server quickly in a safe and secure manner. This method is much better than using clouds or emails. It allows the direct exchange of forms, documents, and business-critical files to your teams or clients on time. 

  • Achieve Compliance

Laws like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), EU Data Protection, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) contain provisions that require covered entities to integrate secure file transfers. Failure to do so can potentially result in costly penalties. Also, if the penalty involves breach, then it can further damage your business. SFTP is built not only for encryption but also other security mechanisms that satisfy these regulatory requirements. 

  • Empowers Data Accessibility

SFTP servers offer secure data transfer services to both SFTP servers and client applications. This means that it can satisfy both server-to-server and user-to-server scenarios. By making data easily accessible, you can easily foster collaboration and increase productivity in your organization.  

If you need end-users to access files on the SFTP server, you can install an SFTP client on their computer. Assuming you connect your SFTP server to the internet, your user can access the server from anywhere in the world. 

Meanwhile, if you need the server to run on autopilot and exchange files with another SFTP server automatically, then you can set up a server-to-server file transfer. It downloads and uploads files in response to certain events on a pre-set schedule 

Conclusion

SFTP is indeed one of the best FTP methods that provide data security when transmitting critical business data. It can efficiently and quickly transfer large amounts of data. It’s no wonder why it is a widely used protocol. If you want to securely send files to a user or another server, then SFTP is a great solution. 

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