Managed File Transfer Dictionary

The purpose of this page is to provide definitions for industry terms typically associated with managed file transfer (MFT).  If there are terms you feel should be added or updated please contact me directly (vglass at jscape.com) directly.

Term Definition
ad-hoc file transfer Method of securely sharing files on demand person-to-person using a combination of web and email protocols.  Ad-Hoc File Transfer solutions are generally part of a larger MFT solution and are designed to solve the delivery, security and tracking problems commonly experienced when sending file attachments via email.
AS1 Applicability Statement 1.  Network protocol used for transmitting data securely and reliably over the Internet.  Utilizes SMTP and S/MIME protocols.  See RFC 3335.
AS2 Applicability Statement 2.  Network protocol used for transmitting data securely and reliably over the Internet.  Utilizes HTTP/S and S/MIME protocols.  See RFC 4130.
AS3 Applicability Statement 3.  Network protocol used for transmitting data securely and reliably over the Internet.  Utilizes FTP and S/MIME protocols.  See RFC 4823.
B2B Business to Business.  Refers to any commercial transaction between businesses.
checkpoint restart Method of restarting a file transfer from a specific byte offset.  This is particularly useful in large file transfers where network errors may be more likely to occur saving both time and bandwidth.  In the FTP protocol this is  handled using the REST command.
checksum verification Method of verifying that the file received is identical to the file sent by generating a computational hash of the file contents on both sending and receiving ends.  In the FTP protocol this is typically handled using the XCRC command.
data at rest Refers to data existing on a storage device.  In the context of MFT the term securing ‘data at rest’ is often used to denote some method of encrypting sensitive files existing on the server.  Compliance standards such as PCI-DSS often require organizations which handle sensitive cardholder information to encrypt data at rest.
DMZ De-Militarized Zone.  Public facing section of network, for example the Internet.
DMZ streaming Method of streaming data from private internal network to public facing network (DMZ) keeping the data from ever physically residing on DMZ servers.  DMZ streaming is often accomplished using a reverse proxy.
EBICS Electronic Banking Internet Communication Standard.  Protocol allowing clients to perform payment transactions electronically.  See http://www.ebics.org/
EDI Electronic Data Interchange.  Protocol for exchanging structured data between trading partners.
FTP File Transfer Protocol.  Network protocol used for transferring files.  See RFC 959 and RFC 1579.
FTPS Secure implementation of FTP protocol utilizing TLS and SSL encryption protocols.  See RFC 2228 and RFC 4217.
GLBA Graham-Leach-Bliley-Act.  Also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, GLBA defines various standards that U.S. financial institutions must adhere to.  GLBA requires that financial institutions have safeguards in place providing information security, privacy and data integrity.  Financial institutions may implement the enhanced security and reporting features typically found in MFT software solutions to meet these requirements.
guaranteed delivery Method of automatically restarting failed file transfers to ensure delivery.  Guaranteed delivery may be achieved using a number of methods including but not limited to checkpoint restart, checksum verification and non-repudiation.
HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  Identifies standards for handling of health care information in the U.S.  HIPAA has requirements addressing the security and privacy of health data.  Healthcare organizations may implement the enhanced security and features typically found in MFT solutions to meet these requirements.
HTTP Hypertext Transfer Protocol.  Network protocol used in all communications over the WWW.  See RFC 2616.
HTTPS Secure implementation of HTTP protocol utilizing TLS and SSL encryption protocols.  See RFC 2818.
managed file transfer Managed File Transfer (MFT) is software that manages an organization’s file transfer processes.  It can typically support multiple file transfer protocols, securely transfer and store files, automate file transfers, integrate with existing applications and provide visibility into all file transfer activities
non-repudiation The assurance that someone cannot deny something.  In the context of MFT non-repudiation is achieved using digital signatures that ensure that a sender cannot deny having sent a file/message and a recipient cannot deny having received stated file/message.
OFTP ODETTE File Transfer Protocol.  Network protocol used in EDI communications between trading partners.  See RFC 2204 and RFC 5024.
PeSIT PeSIT (Protocole d’Echanges pour un Système Interbancaire de Télécompensation) is a non-proprietary network file transfer protocol originally developed by the banking community in France for use in interbank communications.  See PeSIT
PCI-DSS Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.  Information security standard which dictates standards for handling sensitive cardholder (credit card, debit card, ATM etc.) information.   Organizations handling sensitive cardholder data may implement the enhanced security and reporting features typically found in MFT software solutions to meet these requirements.
platform independence In the context of MFT software this generally refers to the ability to use software on multiple operating systems e.g. Windows, Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X.
protocol independence In the context of MFT software this generally refers to the ability to transfer files using multiple file transfer protocols e.g. FTP, FTPS, SFTP, SCP and HTTP/S.
reverse proxy Type of proxy server software that accepts incoming client connections and then connects to one or more destination server(s) on behalf of client.  Response from destination server is then received by reverse proxy and sent back to client as though it came directly from reverse proxy.  This process is completely transparent to the client and is often used in DMZ streaming solutions.
SCP Secure Copy.  Secure network protocol used for transferring files.  SCP is a sub-set of the SSH protocol.
SLA Service Level Agreement.  Part of a contract typically used to specify acceptable performance levels for a service.  For example, in the context of MFT a trading partner may have a SLA that requires files be successfully transmitted within a certain time period.  In order to achieve SLA requirements trading partners will often automate their file transfers with methods that automatically retry failed file transfers.  See guaranteed delivery.
SFTP SSH File Transfer Protocol.  Secure network protocol used for transferring files.  SFTP is a sub-set of the SSH protocol.  SFTP should NOT be confused with FTPS as they are completely different and separate protocols.
SOX Sarbanes-Oxley.  Also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act is a set of accounting and reporting standards by which all U.S. public companies must abide.   Organizations who are subject to SOX compliance may implement the enhanced security and reporting features typically found in MFT software solutions to meet these requirements.
SSH Secure Shell.  Secure network protocol used for remote administration of a computer. SSH is the base protocol upon which the SCP and SFTP file transfer protocols have been created.
SSL Secure Sockets Layer.  Predecessor to the TLS protocol, SSL encrypts network communications.  See TLS.
SWIFT Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.  Organization which provides a proprietary communications platform and exchange service for executing financial transactions electronically.
SWIFTNet The SWIFT network used to exchange financial messages between financial institutions including banks, securities institutions and corporate entities.
TLS Transport Layer Security.  Successor to the SSL protocol, TLS encrypts network communications.  In the context of MFT those file transfer protocols utilizing TLS include FTPS and HTTPS.  See RFC 5246.
trading partner One of two or more entities participating in exchange of data electronically.

About the Author

Van Glass is Founder and Chief Architect at JSCAPE, a manufacturer of managed file transfer and network software.