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
Social media compliance is not typically considered a big issue for companies, but expert Mike Chapple explains why it should be.continue reading
Metadata tagging is not just for security. Expert Mike Chapple explains how tagging tools can be used to achieve PCI DSS compliance.continue reading
Before using the HIPAA-compliant cloud services from Google, there are some things companies need to know, according to expert Mike Chapple.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.