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After so many years of working with FTP on Ubuntu, I'm now confused. I read on many docs that FTP is insecure and that SFTP or SSH is the best way to go.

But here's what I want to do...

We are a group of 4 users on a LAN. The Ubuntu server modules (eg: LAMP stack, Postgres, etc) are actually on an Ubuntu Desktop OS. Anyway, we're using it as a server.

I need for each user to log-in from their PCs (usually Ubuntu) and update their work in /var/www and other shared folders. Not everyone has access to every folder. So I guess creating FTP accounts for each user is a good way to go.

Now, since many people suggest that open-SSH or SFTP is the way to go, I'd like to know the following:

  1. Is it correct to assume that SSH applies to a machine and NOT to a user? So if this is the case users will need to stick to a single computer.

  2. Does SFTP work the same way as FTP where user names can be created with restricted upload/download rights?

  3. Is it really a bad idea to continue using FTP instead of the more 'secure' alternatives since I'm on a LAN?

Pretty confused and really appreciate your inputs!

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

Working backwards in your group of questions:

3) If we presume that your FTP server is not exposed to the wilds of the Internet, then FTP is fine for transferring files internally on your LAN.

2) SFTP works just like FTP for implementation regarding users and access privileges. Only the security of the connection between host and client is increased through encryption.

1) SSH works at both the machine and user level. Users with host machine accounts can SSH in to the host; hosts can be configured with non-machine users to allow SSH (see running an OpenSSH Server).

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