FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, is a computer network protocol used to transfer files from a server to a client. The protocol debuted in 1971 and has since been adopted for use on nearly all computer operating systems. It is noted for its speed and convenience.
In healthcare information systems, FTP is often used for transferring medical data from one system to another. However, the original File Transfer Protocol does not meet modern cybersecurity standards, and more secure variants of FTP are used instead.
How Does File Transfer Protocol Work?
FTP operates on the client-server principle. A host computer runs FTP server software, making a group of files available over a network (a local network or the internet). Computers running FTP client software are then able to log in, then browse and download files.
This simplicity inherent in FTP has made it popular for decades. Many FTP servers on the internet allow for anonymous logins, providing a quick way to download documents, images, and software. FTP client applications make it easy to browse the files on a server and download them with a double-click or drag-and-drop.
FTP Security Issues and SFTP
Standard FTP doesn’t encrypt traffic between the client and the server, creating a significant security concern with today’s internet. A computer user with malicious intent can intercept unencrypted data while in transfer. This issue, along with anonymous logins, makes FTP unsuitable for transferring sensitive data such as patient records and incompatible with privacy regulations.
Over the years, various attempts have been made at securing FTP. The most popular option today is SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol). An extension of the SSH (Secure Shell) remote login protocol, SFTP encrypts all network communications and does not allow anonymous logins.
An important point to remember, however, is that the security offered by SFTP comes by way of the encryption scheme used by the underlying SSH server. For example, using modern, high-bit cryptography like AES-256 is recommended for a HIPAA-compliant SFTP server.
How TempDev Can Help With FTP
TempDev’s team of NextGen consultants, developers, and trainers support your needs, whether you’re looking to implement, switch, or even upgrade your current EHR system. From dashboards and revenue cycle consulting to automation and workflow redesign, TempDev offers the tools you need to make the most of your NextGen EHR system, with top tips and tricks that will ensure your success now and in the future.
With TempDev’s NextGen dashboards, templates, and reports, you can better support your patients’ needs. Our team is here to help you design, organize, and implement the whole system and is on hand to offer tips and guidance based on industry best practices.
Contact us here or by calling us at 888.TEMP.DEV to get the help you need to work with configuring FTP for interoperability.