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Verizon Discontinues FTP Access for “Security,” But Paying Another $6 a Month Gets It Back

Phillip Dampier August 29, 2011 Consumer News, Data Caps, Verizon 4 Comments

'Hurricane Verizon' blows more money out of customers' pockets.

Verizon Communications customers who use the ISP’s personal storage space for running small personal websites have run into a problem: Verizon has banned customers using FTP to manage and update those pages.

Customers are being told the file transfer protocol has been suspended for “security reasons,” but those sobering concerns magically disappear if you agree to pay Verizon an additional $6-10 a month for a “pro hosting plan,” which restores FTP access.

Even more irritating, Verizon customers already pay the company $20 a year for 100MB of space that used to be manageable by FTP, but no more.

“Verizon claims they sent an e-mail notifying me they were shutting off FTP access on Aug. 21, but I never received it,” says Jim Elger, a Verizon DSL customer in Watertown, N.Y.  “I discovered this over the weekend when I couldn’t connect to their FTP server any longer.”

Elger thought Hurricane Irene might have been responsible, but now blames ‘Hurricane Verizon’ for trying to suck more money from his wallet.

“It’s bad enough we pay $20 for what many ISP’s include for free, but now that is rendered money blown out the door because the company wants you to pay for an ‘upgraded’ plan just to update your website,” Elger says.  “There are people in Verizon’s forums who can’t even capture what is already online to move their content somewhere else.”

Elger called Verizon and was also told the change was implemented for security reasons, an explanation he questions.

“How does the security problem go away when you hand over another six dollars a month?”

Currently there are 4 comments on this Article:

  1. greyfade says:

    To be fair, FTP is a trainwreck from a security standpoint. FTPS isn’t much better.

    If they offer SSH/SFTP or some other alternative protocol, this is a Complete Non-Problem™.

    If they don’t offer an alternative to FTP, this is Just Boneheaded™.

  2. There are a couple issues here that need to be sorted out.

    The first issue is that Verizon is absolutely correct in banning FTP for security reasons. It would actually be more appropriate to fault them for *allowing* FTP in the first place. FTP is inherently insecure as the username and password are transmitted without any encryption. (There are other issues too, but the lack of encrypted credentials is the biggest.) That’s not a theoretical concern, it’s a real, proven vector for taking over people’s FTP accounts. And since many people use a single password across systems, it’s a great way to get access to more.

    So on that issue, anyone using FTP to manage a web site (or other content) on the Internet is insane, and any web hosting provider that offers it is incompent. The only time FTP would be acceptable was if it was tunneled through some encrypted channel, such as a VPN or SSH-based port forwarding.

    The second issue is that Verizon allows FTP on their “pro” web hosting service level. Offering a “pro” service level with FTP is inherently in contradiction.

    I know the point of the article was that it appears that Verizon decided to make extra cash by charging users for FTP. But that to me isn’t the story. The story is that they took a highly insecure service away from customers and then offered all the same security vunerabilities back at them– AND charged them extra for it.

    • Smith6612 says:

      Which is a good point by Verizon, even if it is seen as another nickle and dime solution. I use SSH File Transfers routinely to my web server, which also routes over a VPN since I have a tunnel set up to it for IPv6 traffic. If Verizon offered that but denied anything else from being ran over SSH that wasn’t File Transfer, they could offer that up as a solution for their paid solutions or perhaps free solution instead of simply suckering people into paying for their incompetence. From there it’s ensuring they have the correct permissions in place to stop users from abusing SSH.

  3. Greg says:

    While this must be annoying, if you’re sophisticated enough to understand how to use FTP, you probably can find another solution – one that isn’t dependent on your ISP. I would never rely on a big national ISP like Verizon or Comcast for email, web hosting, FTP servers, or anything besides providing a conduit from my home or business to the internet.

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