Wednesday, 16 February 2011

FTP or SFTP or FTPS

I've need to setup a secure FTP site using Windows IIS, the question is which is the best and most secure method, well standard FTP is not secure we all know that and from reading many web sites the question is asked quite a lot what is the difference between them all.  Well here is the answer.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) does not take any precautions to protect information transmitted during a session. This includes your username, password, and any files transmitted.
SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) is a secure replacement for FTP (File Transfer Protocol) based on the Secure Shell protocol. Unlike FTP, SFTP encrypts both commands and data providing effective protection against common network security risks. SSH Client and Server provide both command-line SFTP tools and a graphical user interface for Windows users. SFTP encrypts the session, preventing the casual detection of your username, password or anything you've transmitted. The major reason for implementing SFTP versus FTP is security. FTP is not even remotely secure. During an FTP session, your username and password are transmitted in clear text. If someone is eavesdropping, it is not difficult for them to log your FTP username and password. In FTP all data is passed back and forth between the client and server without the use of encryption. This makes it possible for an eavesdropper to listen in and retrieve your confidential information including login details. With SFTP all the data is encrypted before it is sent across the network. SFTP is not the same as FTP/S; the latter implements the original FTP protocol through a separately-created secure tunnel.
FTPS (FTP-SSL) is a real ftp that uses TSL/SSL to encrypt the control session and if required the data session. With FTPS the control session is always encrypted, but the data session might not be. Why is this? Because with the control session encrypted the authentication is protected and you always want this (normal ftp uses clear text). If you are NOT pre-encrypting the file, you want the data session encrypted so that the file is encrypted while the data is in flight. However, if you are pre-encrypting the file then you do not need to have the data connection encrypted as you do not need to add the overhead of encrypting the data connection, since the file is already encrypted. Understand that SFTP is SSH file transfer and FTPS is FTP with SSL, FTPS is a file transport layer on top of SSL or TLS. The FTPS adds SSL-enabled FTP send and receive capabilities, uses the FTP protocol to transfer files to and from SSL-enabled FTP servers.
As soon as I implement the system and get it working I will let you know….


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