Are FTP, FTPS, or SFTP servers secure? The number one way to secure your FTP servers is to stop using FTP. If standard FTP is running on your server, you should disable it as soon as possible; FTP is over 30 years old and isn’t meant to withstand the modern security threats we face today. FTP is not encrypted, and it lacks privacy and integrity. FTP makes it easy for a hacker to gain access and capture or modify your data while it’s in transit.

Secure your SFTP and FTPS servers with these steps:

  1. Use strong encryption and hashing. such as with SFTP and FTPS. Opt for strong ciphers like AES and TDES, or SHA-2 family algorithms for verifying transmission integrity, and disable any older, outdated ciphers like Blowfish and DES.
  2. Place your servers behind a gateway.Many organizations store their FTP servers in the DMZ, a public-facing segment that is easy to attack. Using an enhanced reverse proxy like a DMZ Secure Gateway keeps files and credentials in the private network, rather than opening inbound ports.
  3. Implement IP Blacklists and Whitelists. An IP blacklist allows you to deny system access to a range of IP addresses, either temporarily or permanently. If your trading partners use fixed IPs, you can whitelist their specific IP addresses.
  4. Harden your FTPS Server. Avoid using Explicit FTPS unless you force encryption for the authentication and data channels, and do not use any version of SSL or TLS 1.0. Plus, you should use Elliptic curve Diffie-Hellman key exchange algorithms.
  5. Set secure user policies.
  6. Require and use strong passwords.
  7. Implement file and folder security. Limit folder access to only the essentials. Encrypt files at rest, especially if they’re stored in the DMZ, and retain files on the FTP server only as long as needed.
  8. Lock down administration. Restrict admin duties to a limited number of users and require to use multi-factor authentication. Avoid easy-to-guess admin user IDs like “root” or “admin,” and protect passwords by storing them in an AD domain or LDAP server.

More best practices: 10 Essential Tips for Securing FTP and SFTP Servers