When people think of FTP servers, they imagine a dinosaur server that’s so outdated it can get hacked by virtually anyone who wants to. To an extent, that is true considering that FTP servers were made in the 70s but many features have been added to it since then to ensure safe connections.
Many of the features that have been added have proven to be effective at preventing cyberattacks and many large enterprises trust FTP servers because of that. Let’s take a look at some of these features.
While FTP servers don’t have any strong defenses against basic cyberattacks like packet sniffing, files shared over them can get encrypted to prevent unwanted access. To allow file encryption, some FTP servers have integrated AES ciphers that allow users to enforce passwords and private keys to their files.
Other FTP servers don’t offer direct file encryption. Instead, they allow users to encrypt files by encrypting FTP sites that files can be uploaded to. For users to get these files, they’ll need to access the encrypted site, which will decrypt the files when they’re being downloaded.
FTPS is a feature that can be used on FTP servers to make them safer by adding a layer of security with a protocol called TLS. FTPS protects an FTP server in two ways, the first one being a requirement for FTP users to have a password, user ID, and a TLS connection. This method is called Implicit FTPS.
The second one is called Explicit FTPS similar but instead of kicking users without TLS, a server can negotiate for an encrypted connection. If you’re wondering what is an enterprise FTP server and which one you can choose, visit GoAnywhere.com. Their FTP server is the top recommendation because it supports Explicit FTPS. You can also monitor all active sessions on it on a web-based interface.
FTP over SSH
Another feature that FTP servers have is that they can protect the data you send over a network but for this, you’ll need to set up an SSH tunnel. The SSH tunnel is what will create a secure way for you and other users to connect to share files while the FTP server handles that data.
The downside of FTP over SSH is that it is very difficult to set up as there are configurations in an SSH tunnel that have to be adjusted by users. The complexity behind setting a fully secure FTP over SSH is not worth it, though, as very few servers still support this feature.
FTP servers can be configured to allow or deny access to some computers that may be trying to some computers by identifying them using their IP addresses. The most famous method of blocking malicious computers from entering an FTP server is adding unfamiliar IP addresses to a blacklist should they try to connect.
However, the method is not very effective because you’ll have to work a lot harder when manually adding IPs to a blacklist. A whitelist requires less work. With a whitelist, you can only allow a few IP addresses on the network you need to share files with and block the rest.
FTP servers can also be secured to a certain extent using admin settings like not allowing user accounts to access the OS. You can also disallow users from creating shared or anonymous accounts as that can open a loophole in the connection cybercriminals will use.
Restrictions must also be enforced so your admin account can notify you whenever there’s unusual activity on the user accounts or the server.
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