Pat Townsend Bolsters MFT Lineup with New Encryption Options
September 21, 2010 Alex Woodie
New capabilities to encrypt PDF and ZIP files on IBM i servers headlines the new release of Alliance FTP Manager, a managed file transfer (MFT) solution from Patrick Townsend Security Solutions. PTSS has also consolidated its various managed file transfer (MFT) products into FTP Manager with version 5.2, providing a streamlined and unified product that covers a range of uses for its customers.
Alliance FTP Manager is an IBM i product that allows users to securely distribute files to customers, partners, and other parties. Prior to the current version 5.2 release, the product’s primary attractions were its capability to automatically grab IBM i content, such as DB2/400 files or spool files, and distribute them securely over FTP using Secure Shell (SSH) encryption (SFTP) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption (FTPS).
With version 5.2, Alliance FTP Manager now includes all of the functionality previously found in several other products from PTSS, including Alliance FTP Security, Alliance Cross Data, and Alliance All-Ways Secure. A customer who bought any of these products is authorized to receive FTP Manager 5.20, provided they’re current on maintenance.
One of the major changes this consolidation brings is support for Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption in FTP Manager. Previously, FIPS-140 certified PGP encryption was primarily the domain of All-Ways Secure, which was enhanced with SFTP capabilities earlier this year. With the increasing product overlap, it made sense for PTSS to consolidate the FTP functions into a single product. PGP is now an extra-cost option for FTP Manager.
Customers of all four of the PTSS products benefit by receiving expanded MFT functionality for their secure file transfer needs. Simplified license key management and streamlined technical support calls will benefit both customers and PTSS.
“This is really a big win for our existing customers,” PTSS CEO John Earl says in a press release. “We know that there are a variety of security challenges facing IBM i customers who send data over networks, and FTP Manager 5.20 provides those customers with the most comprehensive and flexible Secure Managed File Transfer offering available.”
According to Earl, FTP Manager 5.2 users will get the “peace of mind” of FTP Security, the “flexibility of data mapping and translation capabilities” of CrossData, the “versatility” of All-Ways Secure, and the “raw power” of FTP Manager.
Zip and PDF Encryption
But the new PDF and Zip encryption capabilities in FTP Manager 5.2 may be worth the price of admission alone.
With this release, users gain the capabilities to generate encrypted PDF files with FTP Manager (the software already had the capability to generate standard PDF files). Users have lots of control over their encrypted PDFs, including the capability to set fonts and colors, embed watermark and graphic images, set headers and footers, and create tables and lists, according to company founder and CTO Pat Townsend. The resulting encrypted PDF file is compatible with any PDF reader that supports the AES encryption standard for PDF, he says. Users can also lock down PDF features with owner and user passwords.
Similarly, FTP Manager 5.2 introduces AES encryption capabilities for ZIP files. Zip files can be created on the IBM i server, encrypted with AES, and then distributed to PCs, Macs, Linux, and Unix servers–even mobile phones like the Blackberry have Zip clients–using any of the supported delivery methods. PTSS uses the WinZip AES standard, which is mostly, but not fully, compatible with other Zip products, such as PKware‘s PKZip, Townsend says.
PTSS is also providing a Java-based command line utility for decrypting and decompressing Zip files on Windows PCs. PTSS developed this to allow customers who don’t have WinZip or PKZip products on their desktops to receive encrypted or compressed Zip files from IBM i servers, Townsend says.
“We know you’re sending files to people who don’t have Zip applications,” Townsend said during last week’s webinar on FTP Manager 5.2. “And we just want to help our customers protect that data as they distribute it form the System i platform.”
The new ZIP and PDF encryption functionality in FTP Manager exist as commands at this point. That is, they are not fully integrated with all of the automation facilities provided with the FTP Manager. You can likely expect PTSS to provide this functionality in future releases.
But in the meantime, there’s nothing stopping adventurous PTSS customers from integrating the ZIP or PDF encryption commands into their own CL programs. “We like to expose the commands and APIs so customers can embed these in their applications, to make it more powerful,” Townsend says.
FTP Manager runs on i5/OS V5R2 or higher; if SSH is used, the OS must be at the V5R3 level or higher; Zip requires Java version 1.5.1 or later. Pricing was not provided. For more information or to view last week’s webinar on FTP Manager 5.2, see the PTSS website at www.patownsend.com.