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How to Configure FileZilla 2.x FTP SERVER for Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP}

Article Information
Article ID: 39
Author: Greg Hedgepath
Created: 7/18/2011
Modified: 7/18/2011
Views: 2,953

First you'll want to create a certificate, this can be used in the Certificate Generator in FileZilla Server. The Generator will want country code, state, city, etc... Be as truthful as possible, you only undermine your own credibility if you enter wrong information into the certificate.

The key size for the certificate is chosen at the top of the generator: 1024 bit, 2048 bit, 4096 bit. The bigger the key size the more secure the certificate and the initial session key exchange on every connection will be. There is however one thing that needs to be taken into account, CPU utilization during connection handshake. When you apply encryption to your FileZilla server the CPU will have to do many calculations to encrypt the data being sent and decrypt the data being received. Bandwidth will also play a factor in how much the CPU is being utilized. If you have a slower connection, lets say around 1.5Mbps up you may not have to worry about CPU utilization as much. The best way to decide is to test.

Please note that FZS needs the paths to the certificate files:

If you generate your own private key and certificate without putting a path in front of the file name, FZS only puts the bare filename in the certificate field without an error notice, but later you will get "Could not load certificate file" errors in the FZS log when someone tries to connect via FTPS/FTPES (Implicit/Explicit).

Therefore always put the full path to the private key and certificate files in their corresponding fields and FZS can find the files.

After you have created the certificate enter its name and folder path location into the "Private key file" field or browse to it.

If your server has a direct connection to the internet the configuration is simple, check "Enable SSL/TLS Support".

Enable Explicit SSL/TLS

In the SSL/TLS settings menu check "allow Explicit SSL/TLS on normal connections." It is recommended to also check "Disallow plain unencrypted FTP" and "Force PROT P to encrypt file transfers in SSL/TLS mode". This will further enforce encryption policies; here PROT "P" is for "Private" as opposed to "C" for clear text. If you only want certain groups or users to have encryption you can set that up in the user or group editor. If there is data you still want available to the general public the "Force" setting should be disabled in the server settings menu, as you will need an FTP client rather than a web browser to access the FTP server. If using "PROT P - Private", the client may require a matching SSL setting or it may default to PROT C.

Setting up your FTP server in this way allows you to encrypt your data and login information without having to get 3rd party programs. With explicit SSL/TLS you will need a FTP client. Internet Explorer and Firefox don't support SSL/TLS without special plugins. FileZilla client supports FTPS both implicit (FTPS:// protocol), and explicit (FTPES://).

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