If I am on a home network over a standard passphrase-protected router, is it safe* (definition below) to use FTP?

* safe as in attackers not being able to see the contents to the FTP connection, assuming they have not connected to the router

Here is what I am trying to do:

  • Transfer files from my Android device to my laptop over wifi using FTP, on a home network

I do not care if the people who are connected to the router (ie. my family, guests etc) are able to see what I am doing over FTP

I know I can use SFTP or FTP over SSH, but it isn't worth my time to rebuild the script if it is safe* (definition above) enough

  • If the attacker is not inside your network and your network/router is not compromised already it is safe, otherwise not. – Steffen Ullrich Dec 29 '17 at 22:23


  • you accept that anybody that is allowed to use your network can see your FTP password
  • you assume that neither the router nor any machine connected to your network can be compromised
  • you are sure that the android device cannot be inadvertently connected to a rogue WiFi router

then FTP usage is safe.

But the rule in security is to put several defence lines so that if a single element was compromised it would be harder for the attacker to access all informations on the network. For that reason, it is generaly advised not to pass a password in clear text if it can be avoided. That being said, absolute security is a myth, and as long as you are aware of the weakness and assume the risk, it is fine to use FTP.

  • If that is the case, then this setup is good enough for me – stopstopstop Dec 29 '17 at 23:32

Your WiFi could become compromised, or one of the devices on the network could become compromised via the internet (for example, if someone on the network opens an attachment containing malware). In these scenarios the attacker could obtain a foothold in your network and could potentially use that to sniff the FTP traffic and steal your password in a way that would not be possible if you were using SFTP or SSH.

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