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Secure File Transfer

As an alternative to copying files with ftp or scp, you can use the more secure sftp command. This command is used to connect to computers running the sshd program and to establish a secured FTP session with it. From the sftp command, you have an interface that really looks a lot like the normal FTP client interface. All the standard FTP commands work here as well, with the only difference that, in this case, it’s secure.

For example, you can use the ls and cd commands to browse to a directory and see what files are available and, from there, use the get command to copy a file to the current local directory. Once you’ve opened the sftp interface, you can use the following FTP commands to copy files to and from your computer:

Before establishing an FTP session to another computer, use the cd command on your local computer to change to the directory you want to copy files to or from. Your home directory might be a decent location. When using put, mput, get, and mget to transfer files, this directory is used as the default local directory. To establish an sftp session to the computer named nuuk, you would first use the following command:

sftp nuuk

This command assumes that you want to connect to the remote host using the same user account. If you want to connect with another user account, put it in front of the name of the remote server, as in the following command:

sftp sander@nuuk

You’ll now see an SFTP prompt and will be in the root directory that was provided for the user on the remote host. Here, you can use standard Linux commands such as ls to show a list of files, pwd to print your working directory, and cd to change to another directory. You can now transfer files between your computer and the remote computer. For instance, the following command would use sftp to copy the /etc/hosts file to the current directory on your local computer:

get /etc/hosts

When finished copying files, use the quit or the exit command to terminate the sftp session.

Published on Wed 02 April 2014 by Gary Hall in Security with tag(s): sftp