DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/DSN.2016.52
Once pervasive, the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) has been largely supplanted by HTTP, SCP, and BitTorrent for transferring data between hosts. Yet, in a comprehensive analysis of the FTP ecosystem as of 2015, we find that there are still more than 13~million FTP servers in the IPv4 address space, 1.1~million of which allow "anonymous" (public) access. These anonymous FTP servers leak sensitive information, such as tax documents and cryptographic secrets. More than 20,000 FTP servers allow public write access, which has facilitated malicious actors' use of free storage as well as malware deployment and click-fraud attacks. We further investigate real-world attacks by deploying eight FTP honeypots, shedding light on how attackers are abusing and exploiting vulnerable servers. We conclude with lessons and recommendations for securing FTP.