FTP is a very old protocol, which stands for File Transfer Protocol. In the past, it was frequently used by web developers to upload websites and make changes to those websites. Today’s modern websites have a CMS (Content Management System) built into them (think of WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, to name just a few). This brings up the question – do you still need FTP for your website, and if your developer insists they need it, what does that mean?
The FTP standards were first created in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The first FTP standard was published in June of 1971, making FTP 43 years old this year. FTP was created to make it easy to move files from one computer to another, such as moving files for a website from your computer to the web server. FTP is not an encrypted protocol, which means that when you (or your web developer) uses FTP to upload your website, the information you are sending, including your FTP username and password, are sent in plaintext for any malicious user to intercept and use for themselves.
In the last few years, FTP has been one of the dominant sources of malicious software being inserted into our client’s websites. Because FTP is so open and unsecured, it is a magnet for hackers to attack, and easy for them to conquer. Since September 2012, Nerds On Site has restricted the use of FTP in a manner designed to combat the insecurity of the standard. Our servers keep FTP locked down until a user specifically requests access to FTP, and then the system grants them a 7-day use of the FTP with a fresh username and password. This method serves to ensure that only our valued clients are using FTP, not malicious users. (You can learn more about our FTP access system here: https://bit.ly/PYjzlw.)
But is FTP even still necessary? Modern websites come with built-in CMS’s (Content Management Systems) that allow you to securely add and edit content on your website, with no FTP access being needed. The majority of modern websites are built with a framework system, such as WordPress, Joomla, Concrete or Drupal. FTP is still necessary even with such a website, but only in the initial design and setup phase. Once a new website has been setup (this can typically be done in less than 15 minutes with all modern CMS framework systems) FTP is no longer needed for any function on the website, including adding new photos, new pages or even updating the website.
If your web developer is still using FTP, or frequently requesting FTP access, you should talk to them about why they still need it. For typical, modern websites, FTP is no longer needed, so you should investigate what type of technologies are being employed in the development of your site. The Nerds On Site Development Team is also available to review your website and can even convert your old website to the latest technologies. In doing so, you will gain reliability and security, and may also have a nice SEO (Search Engine Optimization) gain as well! You can contact our team today with any questions you may have on your current website.
Do you want to read a bit more about the dangers of using FTP? Here is a great article by Dark Reading that will go more in depth on FTP: https://bit.ly/H55Eqi.
5 years ago I told nerds that we needed to brace for 6 months of a cyber crime spree and protect clients that choose to be protected. Little did I know that 5 years later, we...