FTP is 40 years old

FTP is 40 years old

FTP still forms the backbone of many parts of the Internet, despite its age.

The backbone of the Internet, FTP (file transfer protocol), celebrates its 40th birthday tomorrow. Originally launched as the RFC 114 specification, which was published on 16 April 1971, FTP is arguably even more important today than when it was born.

Even though young upstarts such as P2P networks are now available, it’s FTP that forms the link to many cloud-based services and applications. It’s also deemed more secure than P2P, which is an essential trait for online banking or other sensitive traffic.

Frank Kenney, vice president of global strategy for US managed file transfer company Ipswitch, told us that the protocol we know as FTP today is ‘a far cry from when Abhay Bushan, a student at MIT, wrote the original specifications for FTP.

According to Kenney, the standard has grown from ‘a simple protocol to copy files over a TCP-based network… [to] a sophisticated, integrated model that provides control, visibility, compliance and security in a variety of environments, including the cloud.

Kenney added that ‘FTP has gone through a drastic evolution, from a basic way of easily moving information, to the foundations for the majority of the data transfer and application integration technologies that we all rely on so heavily today.

You can find Ipswitch at stand H70 of the Infosecurity Europe 2011 show in Earl’s Court, London from 19 to 21 April.

Join us in a toast to FTP - at 40 years of age, it’s lasted well and looks like it will remain a relevant technology for years to come. What uses do you currently have for FTP? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.


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SMIFFYDUDE 15th April 2011, 13:34 Quote
Is Norwich stand H71?
Faunus 15th April 2011, 13:49 Quote
When I started in "the business" 13 or so years ago, I was using it daily - but as soon as all of my hosts started using more secure methods (SCP or SFTP) due to mass uptake of Unix and Linux operating systems, I stopped using it completely. I can't remember that last time that I used FTP to transfer anything.

I would find it very surprising though, if any banking corporation used FTP for anything - and if they do, then it's hardly any surprise the industry is in such a mess!
reflux 15th April 2011, 14:07 Quote
Originally Posted by SMIFFYDUDE
Is Norwich is stand H71?

Better watch out, might be a bit of a scuffle! :D
phuzz 15th April 2011, 14:34 Quote
Up until a couple of years ago, the credit card processing software for our system sent it's (un-encrypted) details via ftp over an ISDN line to the vendor.
Funnily enough we don't use them any more.
Our web devs are still using ftp to upload files to our webserver.
tad2008 15th April 2011, 14:45 Quote
+1 for FTP being 40 as will I be in a couple of months :\
bob_lewis 15th April 2011, 14:50 Quote
Used it yesterday. Got my files, no drama. :)
pbryanw 15th April 2011, 18:16 Quote
Still use it for uploading pics to my web-space for use on custom eBay pages. Can't think of anywhere else I use it though...
AstralWanderer 15th April 2011, 22:58 Quote
Originally Posted by
Quote:’s FTP that forms the link to many cloud-based services and applications. It’s also deemed more secure than P2P, which is an essential trait for online banking or other sensitive traffic.
Considering that standard FTP uses no encryption (even passwords are sent in the clear), who exactly has been daft enough to argue its security over P2P?
fluxtatic 16th April 2011, 03:55 Quote
Used it today...actually, I've used it every day for the past couple weeks. Working on a web project for work, and FileZilla is by far the easiest way to shift the files back and forth. Our ERP software at work uses it for 'advanced' communications with vendors. Most are sent as clear text, but the one I actually need access to is PGP-encrypted. Funny enough, I can't get a straight answer as to who has the private key, or why it's encrypted in the first place, so it's been languishing, half-implemented, for 6-8 months.
DriftCarl 16th April 2011, 11:08 Quote
still use it daily. nothing wrong with it if you want to transfer non sensitive files to a web server
sTiVo 16th April 2011, 15:45 Quote
For those who complain that FTP is not secure, I am sure the SFTP is not ashamed of its close FTP lineage. Put it inside a client and except for the setup, you can hardly tell the difference. Even the command line versions are hard to tell apart.
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