How To Protect the Transfer of Sensitive Data
BackgroundChidinma wants to send documents containing sensitive data to Nasir but isn't sure how safe they'll be in transit. She decides to read up to learn how she can prevent malicious users from intercepting the email en route to the intended recipient.
The proliferation of the Internet has greatly facilitated business transactions by making communications easier, faster and cheaper. Lots of people can now quickly market and sell all manner of products and services online. But how safe is it to do so? How do we protect the information we send online?
There are indeed risks, especially with the rise in activity of cyber criminals who often try to hack systems containing sensitive information, or intercept the information when it’s traveling from server to server across the Internet. Some of the types of information that we have to protect are contracts, financial information, or health information. What can we do to protect ourselves?
Over the years, email security has improved a lot. Nevertheless, you can still take additional security measures to protect your email when you are transmitting sensitive data. Secure practices like using secure email services for example, ProtonMail are very efficient.
To begin with, make sure before you log in to web-based email – that is, logging in directly to your email provider’s website, without using an email client – that the web address begins with HTTPS, which means that the connection to your email account is encrypted, and most likely secure. You could also go further and encrypt each single message you send. There are widely available tools to do this, like PGP (Pretty Good Protection) encryption, or you can use Symantec Digital ID for Secure Email, which will give you an encryption key for an email message.
File Transfer Protocol
While sending sensitive files over email can be safe and secure, most email services limit the size of files you can send. So, when you need to send larger files than your email provider will allow, you can use what is called File Transfer Protocol, or FTP. It is a system for transferring large files simply and quickly, but isn’t very secure.
This is because FTP is notoriously easy to intercept and read, so if you insist on transmitting sensitive files this way, you will need extra security features.
One measure would be to couple FTP with an SSL certificate, which would add another strong layer of security and make transferring files this way much safer.
Sometimes this is called FTPS, and creates a secure connection from a server or computer so you can transfer sensitive data quickly and easily. Or, if you want to try something else, file-sharing services also work very well. Many are free but charge for extra space and bandwidth.
If you often transfer lots of sensitive information for your business, you should consider buying an SSL certificate to secure a file transfer portal. This works by bringing the transfer of sensitive data under one secure SSL certificate on your server, which simplifies things and increases security.
Many solutions exist for securely transferring files online. But the most important thing to remember is that you need to ensure that the service you chose is secure and ideally is encrypted.
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