October 1, 2014

EDI Expert Video Series Episode 4: What is the Difference Between FTP and AS2?


EDI Expert Insights with Tom Guzik, Manager B2B EDI Solutions

This issue’s video answers the question of what the difference is between FTP and AS2. Click here or on the video above to watch. If you have any questions you would like answered in a future segment, submit your topic to communications@idea4industry.com

Q: What is the difference between FTP and AS2?

A: The difference between FTP and AS2, or applicability statement two, is that [AS2] focuses mostly on securing the data load or the data file. So it works with the encryption, digital certificates, and secure socket layers. So what it is focused on is making sure that data is so well encrypted that it can’t be read or tampered with. Whereas FTP, or file transport protocol, it’s main focus is on securing the connection, the transport channel, between you and the intended recipient. There, you find the data is almost like clear text, which can be read. So if someone were to look at the data, they could see everything that was in it.  AS2 is providing encryption, so if you had bank information or you have certificate information on account numbers or dollar values for pricing, that’s very safe. 

Now, both can be extended to add additional security features.  So FTP, which is focused on the channel security, but not so much on the data, can have things added to it like VPN, which would provide more data security. AS2 is focused on the data security, but not so much on the channel. It can also be enhanced with secure socket layers, which would now provide that total encryption package.

One of the really good things about AS2 is that it provides a means of hashing a document or the data file so that, when it’s received, the integrity of the file is ensured and you know that it has not been tampered with during transport. So it provides that nonrepudiation.  You know who sent it, you know it wasn’t tampered with.  So of the two, both work fine. But if youre looking at data that’s more sensitive and secure, you’ll probably want to use AS2. If you’re looking at just basic data that you want to send, nothing is really secure, FTP works just as fine. 

Want to learn more about EDI or IDEA’s IDX services? Contact Tom Guzik at tguzik@idea4industry.com.