Secure FTP 101

Friday, 16 August 2002, 10:30 AM EST

FTP was originally defined in the early 1970s to transfer files to and from various ARPANET nodes. However, there are a few problems with ye ol' standard FTP that we all grew up with in the early days of the Internet. First of all, it doesn't use strong authentication. It is based on password logins which can be guessed, or discovered by cybercriminals using a sniffer. Even if the password is not guessed or sniffed, with standard FTP none of the files being transferred to and from their destinations are encrypted. FTP sends files in clear plain-text exposing them to the plethora of bad guys out there who have nothing better to do than violate the privacy of others, pilfer confidential information such as credit card information, and attempt to obtain classified information that could compromise national security.

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