Applied Technology: Signiant Media Shuttle

The Pitfalls of Online File Sharing and Sending Services for the Media & Entertainment Industry:

Easy-to-use, readily-accessible, and consumer-oriented, online file sharing platforms such as Dropbox and Google Drive are, to end users, a pleasant replacement to older file transfer methods such as FTP. FTP is hard to use and requires IT intervention to make almost any change. The pain associated with FTP is one of the factors that opened the door for the rise of online file sharing services in the workplace.

Along with file sharing, for the sending large files, a series of consumer-focused tools have emerged such as WeTransfer to navigate around the size limitations of most email systems. For large files, tools like WeTransfer make the task easier.

However, these trends make IT managers nervous because employees are self-migrating from FTP and internal email systems to unsanctioned, public platforms. This leaves the IT department out of the loop and poses risks that companies seldom want to take. In some cases, EFSS (Enterprise File Sync and Share) systems including Box and Dropbox for Business are options for IT organizations to consider. These typically take a consumer-like product and add additional management controls and, in some cases, more sophisticated security. However, when it comes to sharing mission-critical or large media files, such EFSS solutions are the best answer.

We were using a range of other products like WeTransfer, Dropbox and Box. We had so many different ones that were either client specified or just set up for specific reasons that it was very difficult to manage or help people if they had an issue.
Michael Ball, Post-Production Supervisor, Accord Productions

Seven pitfalls of online file sharing

Let’s examine some of the potential hazards of using consumer-focused file sharing solutions for video files. Here are seven key drawbacks to these products when used for professional media.

1.  No acceleration
For all the promises of ease, access and user-friendliness of online file sharing and sending services, they fail to address the biggest bottleneck of all in moving large video files to other users: the transfer speed.

While employees might think they’re circumventing the annoying FTP process, they still face long file delivery times. Why? Because file sharing services still rely on traditional TCP transfers that do not maximize network bandwidth. Other solutions are just as slow as FTP, but with a friendlier face.

2.  Flawed security models
Even if a vendor advertises that files are encrypted in storage, you have no assurance whether your OFS (Online File Sharing) provider is following secure design principles

Let’s say you get through all these hurdles and your OFS service is following secure design principles. Is your company’s intellectual property and PII (Personally Identifiable Information) data now sitting in someone else’s storage?

Just by using OFS, you could be violating your company’s security policies especially with respect to PII. Freemium versions of the majority of these products seldom support critical security controls. 

“…Research has shown that 43 per cent of C-level executives say negligent insiders are the greatest threat to sensitive data. Instead of going through the red tape of IT procurement, provisioning, testing and security, employees are quick to download the latest app to access or share data. However, such a quick fix can have damaging implications on a company’s most valuable corporate assets – its intellectual property and brand reputation….”
IT Security Guru

3.  Storage lock-in
You can’t choose where you want your assets stored. Online file sharing services use their own storage – and that server could be anywhere. This means your IT department has no control over the actual server where assets are stored.

4.  Closed storage system
Additionally, because you have no control of where the content is stored, you cannot access this storage via other mechanisms. It may be impossible for you to directly interact with your stored files or move them through an automated workflow that is outside your OFS storage. 

5.  File size limits
As of July 2017, Dropbox has a file size limit of 20GB per file. That may seem like a lot, but with a 4K video camera, that limit could be exceeded quickly depending on FPS bitrate and codec.

6.  Poor control and visibility
Without direct ownership of or access to the storage and server management, online file sharing introduces a dangerous barrier to corporate visibility. Being able to restrict access and assign granular permissions to files ensures that only the right people have access to the content. And, being able to view, track and audit activities means that if a breach occurs you can pinpoint its source.

7.  No robust transfer mechanisms
With large files, a checkpoint restart function becomes important. If a file transfer is interrupted, must the transfer be restarted at the beginning or does the vendor support partial file transfer, a restart?

A solution

Media Shuttle is an easy and highly reliable way to transfer large files fast securely and more than 10,000 companies of all sizes use the solution. Here are some of the benefits. 

Signiant Media Shuttle user interface.

Signiant Media Shuttle user interface.

Speed - Media Shuttle’s proven file acceleration technology accelerates transfers over public and private networks by up to 200 times faster than standard methods (such as FTP). The patented technology practically eliminates latency, effectively utilizing all available bandwidth.

No file size limits – Users no longer need to ship hard drives, compress files or break them into smaller files. Media Shuttle allows you to send any size file, anywhere, fast.

Rock solid reliability – The solutioncomes with checkpoint restart, which automatically retries or resumes failed transfers. Email notifications are sent when files have been downloaded, so there is no guess if the files went through.

Comprehensive security model – TheTransport Layer Security (TLS) built into the Signiant transfer protocol, contains a variety of security features that adhere to the information assurance principle of “defense in depth”. A defense-in-depth design strategy incorporates several security controls for a system so that multiple security failures must occur before an attacker can gain access to critical resources.

Media Shuttle makes it easy to share files between people, between systems and to and from the cloud. There are three different types of portals that can be created to support almost any use case. Send for rapid person-to-person transfer, Share for easy up/down loads within folders and Submit, an onramp to automated workflows.

Role-based access - Media Shuttle supports three user levels; end users, operational administrators and IT administrators. Each user type has a tailored, job-function view. This makes it easy to control all access, whether internal or external, to only the files and features required.

Auto delivery - Many organizations can gain great efficiencies by eliminating the need to check manually for new content or streamlining distribution of the same content to multiple partners. The auto delivery feature provides this capability via a native application running on the end user’s computer.

CloudSpeX dramatically lowers rejection rates associated with the receipt of improperly formatted files or incorrect file types, and helps to manage the volume and complexity of today’s multiplatform delivery specifications. Unlike other solutions that validate file format compliance after the file transfer, CloudSpeX ensures that file specifications are enforced prior to delivery.

Metadata entry allows users to populate predefined fields with information describing the file they are about to share. The interface is fully customizable, allowing system administrators the ability to define fields for any parameter. The metadata remains associated with the file, making it easy for a person or process to take action upon receipt.

App-less transfers - Authorized users are able to access their files from anywhere, on any device, without any special software on their computer. While most users engage with Signiant systems via an installed application or browser plug-in to take advantage of accelerated transport, there are some situations where this is impractical. This feature supports the use of mobile devices or computers that may be unable to install software.

Storage independence – Content can be stored on-premises or in cloud object storage. This includes the flexibility to allocate all the same storage locations, or the choice of allocating different storage locations for each of your portals. Ultimately that means the user has full control of where files are at all times, and the flexibility to change storage allocation at any time.

APIs - Media Shuttle provides two APIs for those who want to implement automated computer control of certain functions:

- The administration API enables automation of repetitive tasks like portal creation, storage assignment, and user creation. Customers use this API to replace manual processes, and to replace automated tasks associated with older technology like FTP server setup

- An API for ‘system-to-person’ automation is now available so that organizations and integrators can create simple, automated ‘click here to download’ workflows from asset management systems.

Signiant’s Media Shuttle can speed media file transfers, bring structure to file and folder ciaos, automate workflows and protect content. This is the solution to fast and safe file transfers.

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