I find it very convenient to administer my whole server by logging in as root.

However, CSF tells me that it is a "considerable risk" to allow login to FTP via root, and other websites I googled concur.

Why is this, and should I really be too worried about it? Is it OK to leave it or would the risks outweigh the benefits even in my case?

  • FTP, which sends the password in plaintext and simply shouldn't be used at all, or sFTP? – Peter Oct 29 '14 at 2:37
  • because root can run anything. Why risk it. If you want to do this use a security cert – Ramhound Oct 29 '14 at 2:37
  • p.s. I do use SFTP – superuser Nov 1 '14 at 2:00

Because most users connect to standard FTP port without using SSL, and even if they do, it is mostly self-signed one, and it is very easy to intercept that kind of traffic, which means your root password can be found very easily if no encryption is used, as it is sent in clear text.

If you really need to use root for transferring files then use SFTP, which works over SSH and is more secure then FTP, and use SSH keys for login, instead of password authentication.

If you are allowing root to login to SSH to your server, then you can use any SFTP client and connect to SSH port with root login.

Some SFTP clients are WinSCP and Tunnelier which provides you with an easy drag and drop File manager to transfer files over SFTP

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  • I log in with sftp in fact, so at least that's good. And my password is really, really long and complicated But I think I will ultimately disable the access. – superuser Oct 29 '14 at 3:20
  • I disabled the access. – superuser Oct 29 '14 at 3:48

Allowing anyone to FTP as root allows the possibility of anyone deleting any file on your system, either intentionally or more likely, accidently. A hacker could also modify any file by copying over a new version - for example modifying your ssh files to allow someone you didn't intend to, to access your system. This could allow them to tunnel to any other system this machine has access to.

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