FTP is only acceptable when running an anonymous FTP server that distributes non-sensitive information. Many software
companies, for example, use this mechanism to distribute patches and other updates.
Fortunately, there are ways to secure FTP, and there are also safer alternatives to the protocol. If FTP must serve as the data transport method, the easiest way to bolt on encryption is to connect to a VPN first, provided that the VPN endpoint device is logically close to the server that you're connecting to. By default, a VPN offers encrypted communications over the Internet. Typically, a company will only let employees or close affiliates connect to its VPN, so this might not be an option in all circumstances.
If you're in a position to suggest an alternative protocol, go with a secure FTP (SFTP) client. It not only uses the same command syntax as a standard FTP client, but also adds encryption to secure the connection. There are many free SFTP clients available; I prefer the free PSFTP client.
More recent responses from Mike Chapple:
Dig deeper on SSL and TLS VPN Security
Related Q&A from Mike Chapple, Enterprise Compliance
Should companies obtain U.S. security clearance to join the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program? Mike Chapple offers his perspective.continue reading
Does a Web application security assessment termed 'compliance ready' seem too good to be true? Learn its role in an enterprise compliance program.continue reading
Learn how hiring the right PCI DSS-compliant service providers, especially payment services providers, can reduce your compliance burden.continue reading
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.