There are Threats to FTP Servers, are You Mitigating Them?

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I just finished reading an article by Marianne Kolbasuk McGee about the threats facing healthcare companies when it comes to FTP servers. I thought it would be a good idea to outline these threats, provide some thoughts, and outline some of the ways FileCatalyst addresses them.

The State of FTP Servers

The FBI has warned the healthcare sector that the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) can easily expose threats to cybercriminals preying on FTP servers running in “anonymous mode.” If sensitive information such as identifiable health records gets in the wrong hands, criminals may be able to harass, blackmail or influence patients in a position of power. The FBI has strongly recommended that healthcare and dental entities address their networks and assess any FTP servers running in “anonymous mode.”

Principal consultant of TW Security, Keith Fricke, stated that the reason “anonymous FTP mode” puts data at risk is that named accounts aren’t required to log into the FTP server. “A default anonymous account may have a known default password,” he explained, “[and] this makes unauthorized access easy once an intruder discovers that the FTP server exists.” The FBI noted that “research conducted by the University of Michigan found that over 1 million FTP servers were configured to allow anonymous access, potentially exposing sensitive data stored on these servers.”

The Repercussions

The FBI also stated that “any misconfigured or unsecured servers operating on a business network on which sensitive data is stored or processed exposes the business to data theft and compromise by cybercriminals who can use the data for criminal purposes such as blackmail, identity theft or financial fraud.”

This isn’t a mere warning either; the healthcare sector has seen a rise in attacks. These attacks have included ransomware attacks and threats on sensitive data. Hackers have threatened to release data publically, sell it to on the dark web or wipe it completely if they don’t receive the ransom. This isn’t just a cause for concern for the healthcare sectors, but a number of industries. It’s no longer enough to encrypt transmissions – securing the FTP service as a whole is now a necessary procedure.

FileCatalyst, UDP, and Security

If FTP servers are causing the issues, FTP should be removed from the equation to ensure the security of the server. FileCatalyst is built on our patented, built in-house, protocol that is based on UDP. Not only is our technology built on UDP, it brings added security to the server.

FileCatalyst Central, which monitors and manages your organization’s entire FileCatalyst deployment via a browser, gives users have the ability to bring their own Trusted SSL certificates and import them into their FileCatalyst deployment. Central also gives users the ability to import self-signed SSL Certificates as well.

To learn more, read our blog post on some of the new security features regarding SSL here. To read more on the vulnerabilities of FTP transfers, view Marianne Kolbasuk McGee’s full article here.