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Beginners Guides: Setting up an FTP Server in Windows XP
Beginners Guides: Setting up an FTP Server in Windows XP - PCSTATS
FTP is an easy way to transfer files over the Internet and in this guide PCSTATS will explains the basics of using it, and how to set up a home FTP server in Windows XP.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Dec 24 2008   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Configuring Hardware Firewalls for FTP

Home Internet sharing devices like Cable/DSL routers are very common, and almost all come with some form of firewall that is enabled by default. To successfully pass FTP traffic through these devices, you will need to create a 'virtual server' entry in the setup of your Internet sharing device. Pictured below is an example of this from an SMC Barricade home DSL/cable router.

A virtual server is an instruction to your Internet sharing device telling it to forward any traffic it receives on a specified port to a specific computer inside your network. For example, if you create a virtual server for port 21, IP address, your internet sharing device will listen for traffic coming in on port 21, then pass that traffic through the firewall to the computer with that IP address.


Though the instructions will vary depending on the brand of your device, what you will need to do is find the 'virtual server' setup section (or equivalent), and specify the IP address of the computer that is running the FTP server (to find this, go to start\run and type 'cmd' then 'ipconfig.'). You will need to enter port 21 for data coming into and out of the router.

Once this is saved, FTP information will be able to pass through your firewall. For more information on firewalls and their configuration, see our Beginner's guide to firewalls and Internet security here.

FTP security

Important topic. The problem with FTP is that, by default, it is an extremely insecure protocol. Usernames and passwords are not encrypted in any way when they are sent from the client to the server, and so are prime targets for anyone intercepting network packets between your server and your clients.

This is the reason that the Windows FTP server software recommends that you use only anonymous access for your FTP site, as the alternative is to use valid user accounts from your XP installation.

If these credentials are intercepted, they could be used to severely compromise the security of your entire system, never mind your FTP site. Hence the recommended practice for home users is to allow anonymous access to the FTP site directory and simply not place sensitive files there. Obviously, this is not going to meet everyone's needs, so there are alternative methods of securing FTP transactions.

Generally speaking, these involve using SSL (Secure Socket Layer) or some other encryption method to encrypt the plain FTP information, creating a secure channel between the client and server. Ffor more information on SSL and other methods of encryption, see PCSTATS' Beginners Guide to encryption here .

Most third-party FTP server software packages support encryption as part of the FTP program itself, but using IIS for Windows XP, the only possible method of security is to use a method that encrypts all traffic between the server and a specific client, such as a VPN (Virtual Private Network). For more information on how to set up Virtual Private Networks, see PCSTATS' Guide.

Serv-U supports creating an SSL certificate within the program for encrypting traffic, but only in their commercial versions of the program. The free personal edition does not have this feature.

So to sum up, unless you have specifically placed security measures, assume that all FTP traffic is inherently insecure. Therefore, don't put data in your FTP site that you would not want seen by the general public. Don't be scared away from it though, since the fact that anyone can access your FTP site does not affect the security of the rest of your system unless you are using your Windows user accounts with IIS.

If you have any comments or questions, please post them in the PCSTATS Forums. Find out about this and many other reviews by joining the Weekly PCSTATS Newsletter today! Catch all of PCSTATS latest hardware reviews right here.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Setting up an FTP Server in Windows XP
 Pg 2.  Controlling Anonymous Access
 Pg 3.  Configuring the FTP Website Controls
 Pg 4.  WinXP FTP Security Controls
 Pg 5.  Third-party FTP Software
 Pg 6.  Configuring Serv-U Software
 Pg 7.  Creating FTP User Accounts
 Pg 8.  FTP and firewalls
 Pg 9.  — Configuring Hardware Firewalls for FTP

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