Secure file transfer and automation: why it is essential for governments

You’d be astounded how many files are exchanged between government agencies, departments, and the public sector in general. Only a handful of organizations have as much sensitive data to securely exchange nor as much of a duty to ensure the data remains protected.

Information handled by government offices can be broadly grouped into three sections:

  1. Information that is open to the public and can be made available through media channels without any restrictions
  2. Highly valuable and confidential information. Such information should never be disclosed to unauthorized personnel or shared outside the firewall.
  3. Sensitive information that can only be shared outside the firewall if robust security measures are set in place.

The majority of data security issues witnessed today usually arise from the third category.

The government is bestowed with the responsibility of keeping such data protected. This includes information such as social security number, salary and wage details, and generally any piece of data that falls under PII and PHI.

Other examples of sensitive data that need to be secured at all times include tax documents, court filing, election data, audit reports, research studies, bills & laws, and budget details. The list is practically endless.

As such, secure file sharing is critical for government agencies. Government agencies require trustworthy and efficient file sharing solutions, systems, and processes that can adequately meet their needs.

Gone are the days when emails and other data exchange applications measured up. Today, the file transfer landscape has evolved. This advancement calls for better and reliable file transfer solutions.

While some solutions meet these needs and go beyond, others fail to hack it. Knowing how to identify and determine the best tool is thus a necessary requisite. In this article, we’ll look at some government scenarios that show the need for a file transfer solution and how to choose the right file transfer solution.

Regulations and policies

Government agencies are subject to several regulations and security policies regarding data security and integrity.

The most significant ones are the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). Secure file transfer solutions are crucial in meeting the security requirements outlined by these standards.

FISMA requirements, for instance, stipulate that all agencies develop, record, and enforce a plan that guarantees the security of information systems and the data they data contain. These requirements extend to data that’s handled by third-party organizations.

File transfer solutions have proved to be a surefire way of not only protecting sensitive data but also achieving compliance. With an effective file transfer tool, you don’t have to worry about compliance or any issues regarding data exchange.

Considerations for file sharing among government and public agencies

File sharing between government offices comes with several rules and a high degree of sophistication. This is expected considering the type of data involved. Granted, legacy solutions are far from enough meeting the file sharing needs of government agencies. They are insecure and also lack flexibility.

This calls for more secure, efficient, and flexible file sharing solutions. Below is a checklist you can consult when choosing a reliable file transfer tool.

Security

There are different file sharing solutions available, but not all meet the security requirements of government workloads. If you are in the market for a reliable file transfer tool, ensure the industry standards validate it. While at it, also consider a solution with multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized data access. Not many people are aware that the SSH-2 protocol, and therefore the SFTP protocol as well, has been featuring built-in PKI-based multi-factor authentication since the early 2000's, way before MFA was even a thing.

Compatibility

It is pointless to get a file-sharing solution if it is not compatible with your system. Ensure that your file transfer solution of choice integrates well with your existing system and future system (if your department or agency has plans to upgrade).

Compliance

As mentioned before, government agencies are required to comply with several standards and policies when it comes to data exchange. Failure to observe adherence attracts huge penalties, not to mention risks confidential data falling into the wrong hand. Therefore, when choosing a file transfer solution, you need to ensure that it guarantees accordance with all regulation standards that apply.

Automatic control

The best file transfer tool should be able to streamline workflow and increase productivity in the departments. One such way of achieving using file transfer solutions is by choosing one that allows users to see & monitor modifications to files in real-time.

On average, hundreds of files move in and out of a department in a week. This number could be higher or lower, depending on the agency. Having multiple versions of files in such a workplace can be overwhelming. Employees can be easily confused, wondering which version is the most recently modified.

This is why when choosing a file transfer tool, you ought to ensure it has a way of showing the most recent version of a file while hiding (archiving) the earlier versions. This ensures there’s no mix-up.

Automation

Automation in file transfer is an effective way of improving productivity at work as it allows employees to focus on more direct projects. The big question is: What is the point of manually doing repetitive file transfer tasks when there is a better workaround?

Government agencies, like any other organization, need automation too. Being the case, it is imperative to ensure that the file transfer solution you choose brings on the perk of automation.

Visibility into all content

Some government offices still store files on on-premise enterprise content management systems. While this is not wrong, it does limit the effectiveness of employees. Think of how faster things could get done if employees could access files they need from a single secure UI.

Government agencies also need to show total visibility into all agency content with a detailed reporting of all events. This includes the location of a specific file, users that access it & at what time, the IP address & device that accessed the file, and all activities that are done to the file. Keeping up with all these can be challenging, especially if you don’t have the right file sharing solution in place.

It is a good idea to ensure that the file transfer solution you choose incorporates all these for smooth day to day operations.

What file transfer solution does your agency need?

The right file transfer tool should be able to check in most if not all the factors explained above. We recommend MFT solutions as they ensure:

  • Secure of data in transit and at rest
  • Reduced costs
  • Compliance with industry standards and regulations
  • Increased efficiency and more productivity
  • Automation at the workplace which streamlines workflow

MFT applications

Below are some of the MFT uses cases in government agencies and departments that show it is an excellent solution.

Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV)

The DMV regularly sends and receives files from insurance companies and banks. The files, as per the industry standards, have to be exchanged via EDI — a standard format for computer-to-computer exchange.

In the past, file exchange was done through the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administration mailboxes. This became obsolete as a result of the high implementation cost. MFT solutions overcome this hitch as they are cheaper and more effective.

Law enforcement agencies

The police department best represents how MFT solutions help safeguard files on victims, suspects, and criminals. MFT tools are used to collect & send information such as surveillance footage securely without breaches that could compromise arrests and prosecutions. This is made possible using MFT software & web client.

Records bureau

Here, MFT software is used to transfer files containing data such as transcriptions and recordings to other agencies. These files are encrypted to ensure they remain secure in transit. All standards are also observed to ensure adherence to industry regulations.

MFT solutions can also be used to manage legal actions exercised by military personnel. For instance, military personnel stationed overseas can submit their ballots to the relevant election officials/authorities safely using MFT tools.

Conclusion

File transfer needs aren’t going away any time soon, maybe never. The best way to keep up with these evolving needs is by employing an effective transfer solution. These solutions come with a wide range of functionality that puts your mind at ease.

Government agencies should focus on acquiring & employing these solutions to ensure fast and secure file transfer across any number of locations and users. The alternatives are expensive, ineffective, and less than ideal.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Syncplify

Here at Syncplify we simplify all file transfer and synchronization processes with our suite of skillfully designed software.