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SFTP is an acronym that stands for SSH File Transfer Protocol (also Secure File Transfer Protocol). It's a type of file transfer solution allows your employees, your customers and your business itself to remain as protected as possible in the digital age. If you're planning on allowing all employees within your organization to have access to your FTP server, SFTP multi-user is definitely the way to go for a number of important reasons.
First, let's examine what is not truly multi-user SFTP. Allowing two people to share the same username and password is not multi-user. As another example, many web services allow SFTP transfers only for the single login account of the site administrator (or a "root" user). Those commodity services therefore offer no file transfer security for more than one person.
At its core, SFTP multi-user involves jailing each user so that they have neither any visibility of other users' private folders nor any access to enter those folders. So, multi-user SFTP is a technique that gives you a greater level of control over who can access the files on your FTP server and who cannot. Instead of creating one account and sharing the username and password with all relevant parties, each member of your team gets their own unique username and password. One of the major benefits of this is accountability: you can see who is accessing what files; you can get a detailed overview of any changes that they're making and more.
When it comes to security, another major benefit of SFTP multi-user has to do with the levels of permissions that you can set. You can specify who can or cannot see and access directories on an SFTP server based on their username and password. You can also specify whether they can only download files, whether they can upload files and (separately) whether they can delete files that no longer need to be kept on the SFTP server. Even in a folder where two or more people need access, those users can have different permissions; this is true multi-user SFTP. If someone isn't working with a particular customer or on a certain project, for example, they have no business accessing those relevant files.
With SFTP multi-user, you're no longer operating on the honor system when it comes to file sharing. If you don't want "Employee A" to be able to access the files located in "Folder 1" on your FTP server, you can deny them access at any time and still allow them to access the data relevant to their job.
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It's always important to keep in mind that not all file sharing solutions will support SFTP multi-user functionality, so always be on the lookout for ones that do if you consider this to be a priority. FTP Today is perhaps the most prominent example of a solution that will allow you to set up an FTP site under this type of configuration. Popular solutions like FTP Worldwide, Box, Dropbox, Egnyte, driveHQ and others do not offer SFTP multi-user functionality in any way, shape or form.
These are just a few of the many reasons why multi-user SFTP is valuable in a secure file sharing solution. At a minimum, it will help prevent the types of user error that lead to significant data breaches that could cost your organization thousands (or even millions) of dollars to fix that can also cause damage to your reputation that you may never recover from at the same time.
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Founder of Sharetru (Formerly FTP Today) and a respected voice in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.
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