5 Android/iPhone Apps for IT Admins

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As administrators for our servers, we may find ourselves needing to do certain things while on the go. We may also not have a laptop or PC within reach. But one thing most of us have at all times is a cell phone. Whether we have an Android or an iPhone, most of us do possess a smartphone. One thing great about these smartphones is their constant connection to the Internet. Having that constant connection makes it simple to use various apps that assist with admin tasks through our smartphones. Here is a list of five applications available both on iPhone and Android. If you are interested in checking them out, click on your phone’s type next to the application name. You can also search for these applications by name in your smartphone’s app store. Continue reading “5 Android/iPhone Apps for IT Admins”

How To Set Up FTP isolation in CentOS or Ubuntu

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Configuring Multi-User FTP with User Isolation

This article is intended to give an overview of a chroot environment and configuring your FTP service for user isolation. This is done with a few lines within the main configuration file of the FTP service.

This article is also intended as a guide for our Core-Managed servers running CentOS or Ubuntu without a control panel. Our Fully Managed servers that utilize the cPanel software already have the FTP user isolation configured by default and also provide utilities for creating FTP users.

What is Chroot?

Chroot or change-root is the implementation of setting a new root directory for the environment that a user has access to. By doing this, from the user’s perspective, there will appear to be no higher directory that the user could escape to. They would be limited to the directory they start in and only see the contents inside of that directory.

If a user were to try and list the contents of the root (/) of the system, it would return the contents of their chroot environment and not the actual root of the server. Read more about this at the following link.

 

Installing ProFTPd

As there are many FTP options available, ProFTPd, Pure-FTPd, vsftpd, to name a few, this article will only focus on the use of ProFTPd for simplicity and brevity. This is also not intended to be a guide for installing an FTP service as it’s covered in our Knowledge Base articles below.

https://www.liquidweb.com/kb/how-to-install-proftpd-on-centos-7/

https://www.liquidweb.com/kb/how-to-install-and-configure-proftpd-on-ubuntu-14-04-lts/

 

User Isolation with ProFTPd

User Setup

By default, ProFTPd will read the system /etc/passwd file. These users in this file are the normal system users and are not required to be created outside of normal user creation. There are many ways to create additional FTP users, but this is one way to get started.

Here are some typical entries from the system passwd file. From left to right, you can see the username the user and group IDs, the home directory and the default shell configured for that user.

user1:x:506:521::/home/user1:/bin/bashuser2:x:505:520::/home/user2:/bin/bash

To create these users, you would use the useradd command from the command line or whatever other methods you would typically use to create users on the server.

Create the user

useradd -m -d /home/homedir newuser

Set the user password

passwd newuser

If you are setting up multiple users that all need to have access to the same directory, you will need to make sure that the users are all in the same group. Being in the same group means that each user can have group level access to the directory and allow everyone in the group to access the files that each user uploads. This level of user management is beyond the scope of this article, but be aware that things of this nature are possible.

ProFTPd User Configuration

To jail a user to their home directory within ProFTPd, you have to set the DefaultRoot value to ~.

vim /etc/proftpd.conf

DefaultRoot ~

With this set, it tells the FTP service to only allow the user to access their home directory. The ~ is a shortcut that tells the system to read whatever the user’s home directory is from the /etc/passwd file and use that value.

Using this functionality in ProFTPd, you can also define multiple DefaultRoot directives and have those restrictions match based on some criteria. You can jail some users, and not others, or jail a set of users all to the same directory if desired. This is done by matching the group that a user belongs to.

When a new user is created, as shown above, their default group will be the same as their username. You can, however, add or modify the group(s) assigned to the user after they are created if necessary.

Jail Everyone Not in the “Special-Group”

DefaultRoot ~ !special-group

Jail Group1 and Group2 to the Same Directory

DefaultRoot /path/to/uploads group1,group2

After making these changes to the proftpd.conf file you’ll need to restart the FTP service.

CentOS 6.x (init)

/etc/init.d/proftpd restart

CentOS 7.x (systemd)

systemctl restart proftpd

 

User Isolation with SFTP (SSH)

You can also isolate SFTP users or restrict a subset of SSH users to only have SFTP access. Again, this pertains to regular system users created using the useradd command.

While you can secure FTP communications using SSL, this is an extra level of setup and configuration. SFTP, by contrast, is used for file transfers over an SSH connection. SSH is an encrypted connection to the server and is secure by default. If you are concerned about security and are unsure about adding SSL to your FTP configuration, this may be another option to look into.

 

SFTP User Setup

Create the user and their home directory just like with the FTP user, but here we make sure to set the shell to not allow normal SSH login. We are presuming that you are looking for SFTP-only users and not just regular shell users, so we add the restriction on the shell to prevent non-SFTP logins.

useradd -m -d /home/homedir/ -s /sbin/nologin username

passwd username

We need to make sure that permissions and ownership are set for the home directory to be owned by root, and the upload directory is owned by the user.

chmod 755 /home/homedir/

chown root. /home/homedir/

mkdir -p /home/homedir/upload-dir/

chown username. /home/homedir/upload-dir/

 

SFTP Configuration

Hereby setting the ChrootDirectory to the %h variable, we are confining the user to their home directory as set up when the user was created. Using the ForceCommand directive also limits the commands the user is allowed to execute to only SFTP commands used for file transfers, again eliminating the possibility that the users will be able to break out of the jail and into a normal shell environment.

/etc/ssh/sshd_config
Subsystem sftp internal-sftp
Match User user1,user2,user3
ChrootDirectory %h
ForceCommand internal-sftp

Jail Multiple FTP Users to a Location

Alternatively, if you wanted to have multiple users all jailed to the same location, you can set them all to be in the same group, have the same home directory, and then use a Match Group directive within the SSH configuration.

vim /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Subsystem sftp internal-sftp
Match Group groupname
ChrootDirectory %h
ForceCommand internal-sftp

After making these changes to the sshd_config file, restart the SSH service. One of the following commands should work for you.

CentOS 6.x (init)

/etc/init.d/sshd restart

CentOS 7.x (systemd)

systemctl restart sshd

Further Reading can be found at:

 

How To Set Up FTP for Windows

Reading Time: 5 minutes

What is FTP?

You or your developer may want to have access via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to the folders for the project or domain that is being worked on. FTP is a quick and easy way for someone to connect to their project, without having to have full access via RDP to the server. An FTP user also only has access to the folders that are designated to them, keeping them in their own environment so as not to accidentally change other user’s files and file structure on their project/domain. Here we will cover how to utilize FTP on a Core/Self-Managed Dedicated or VPS Server, as well as a Plesk Server.  Let’s jump right in!

 

Enabling FTP Services

The first thing that you need to check before creating an FTP user is to enable FTP on your server. To do that on a Core/Self-Managed server, we need to RDP to the server and open Server Manager.

Once the server manager is open, in the top right corner, there are a few options: Manage, Tools, View, and Help. We want to click on Manage, which will show a drop-down menu. At the top of the menu, click on the option Add Roles and Features.

Once you have the Add Roles and Features Wizard up, click Next until you are at the Server Selection.

Make sure your server is highlighted, by default, it should be. If so, you can click Next which brings you to Server Roles.

Server Roles are where you will find the features your server can have enabled separately, depending on your needs. We aren’t looking for anything but FTP at this time, so we won’t cover all of the features and services we find here. FTP services are going to be found under the role Web Server. Click on the carrot next to Web Server. There are 3 different options with checkboxes; Web Server, FTP Server, and Management Tools. Dropping down the FTP Feature will show the available FTP features.

If all of these are already checked, you can skip ahead to the Adding and Assigning FTP Users section of this help article. However, if these are not checked, go ahead and check FTP Server and FTP Service. If your users plan on using ASP.NET services or IIS Manager, you will want to make sure you check FTP Extensibility.

Once you have the FTP features selected, click on Next a couple of times until you get to the Confirmation page. At the top, you will see an option to “restart the destination server automatically if needed. For installing FTP Services, a restart is not needed. We can leave this box unchecked and click on Install. This install process shouldn’t take too long.

 

Adding an FTP User Account

Before we add an FTP site, we need to set up a user with some credentials. We do this by accessing Computer Management.On Windows 2012 and up, we can do this by right-clicking the Start Menu button, and selecting Computer Management. Here, under System Tools, if we click the drop down carrot, we will see the Local Users and Groups section. Double-click on Users and a list of all the Local Users will formulate. On the far right of the Computer Management, once we have navigated to Users, we see a More Actions and will need to click on that to add a New User.

Clicking on New User will pop up a simple interface that asks for the user name, the user’s full name, a description for that user that serves as a description for you, the administrator, to recognize the purpose of this user. Fill out this information accordingly and type in a password for this user. Under Confirm Password, we see that by default “User must change password at next logon” is selected. Because this is strictly for FTP, we will uncheck that and check “User cannot change password” and “Password never expires”. Considering the FTP user will only have access to the destination you allow, it is not necessary to change the password.

 

Adding an FTP Site

Now that FTP Services are installed and a user is created, we need to head on over to the IIS Manager. This can be found in the Start Menu, or by clicking on Tools in Server Manager as we did before, but clicking on Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.

Here is the IIS Manager, we need to create the FTP site that you will want this specific user to have access to. We do this by clicking on the drop-down carrot next to the server name, and then right-clicking on the folder that says “Sites“.

A menu will pop up, with the option to Add FTP Site. Enter the name you wish to give this FTP site. Select a Physical path, where you want the user for this FTP site to have access. Do this by either typing in the direct path, or selecting the 3 dots next to the entry bar and physically selecting the folder you wish to assign this FTP site.

Clicking next will bring you to Bindings and SSL settings. If you have any specific IP address that is assigned to a domain that is being used for this FTP Service, you need to make sure that the IP address is selected by dropping down the bar.

If all sites are taking advantage of Windows SNI (Server Name Identification) than you can leave this set to All Unassigned, if you wish to use a different port than the default FTP port, go ahead and type that in under Port. But if this is just a basic FTP instance for everyday purposes, go ahead and leave that port at the default 21. Next, you want to make sure that “Start FTP Site automatically” is selected. Unless of course, you want to manually allow the user to connect to their FTP site only when you designate by starting the page in IIS. Select No SSL and click Next for this FTP Site. In this tutorial, we will not be covering setting up an SSL for this specific FTP Site. If you do already have an SSL that you have added to the server for this purpose, you need to make sure that Allow or Require under SSL is checked, and select your SSL on the drop down bar labeled SSL Certificate.

Now we have been brought to the Authentication and Authorization section. Here at the top are two options for Authentication. Make sure that both boxes are checked. Finally, we have the Authorization section where we would select the groups or users we want to allow to be able to log into this FTP Site.

 

Setting Up the Windows Firewall

Now that we have the FTP site all set up and ready to go, we do need to set up the firewall rules. Open up your firewall by clicking on Start, scrolling to Windows Administrative Tools, and clicking on Windows Firewall with Advanced Security.

We need to set some rules on the Inbound Rules section, so click on that first. It’s in the top right corner. After clicking on Inbound Rules in the top right corner under Actions, you will see a section called Inbound Rules. Under that category should be New Rule.

You may have to click on the arrow next to Inbound Rules to see this. Click on the New Rule

And you will be selecting the Rule Type. For FTP we will be using Port, so click on that and Next. Now you will see Protocol and Ports. For Protocol, use the setting TCP. For Specific local ports type 21, 5001-5051 and click on Next.

Now we have the Action section. By default, “Allow the connection” is selected. Keep this the way it is and press Next. Now you will be prompted for when this rule will apply.

We want it always to apply so keep each network connection type box checked. There are three: Domain, Private, and Public. Click Next, and you will be naming the firewall rule. We suggest just naming it FTP Connection or something of the sort.

You should be all set. Go ahead and log into another computer, use your favorite FTP client (such as Filezilla), enter the IP address as a host, and your newly created username and password, port number, and click connect. You are now connected FTP to your designated pathway on your server.

 

FTP on a Plesk Server

This process is a lot faster and much simpler. Here are a couple links in regards to setting it up on a Plesk Windows Server.

https://help.liquidweb.com/s/article/Creating-FTP-Users

https://help.liquidweb.com/s/article/Uploading-Files-Using-FTP-in-Plesk

You did it! You have successfully set up an FTP site so that you or the developers can now edit, copy, and remove files from their designated folders smoothly.

Install vsftpd on Ubuntu 16.04

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Installing vsftpd allows you to upload files to a server, the concept is comparable to that of Google Drive.  When you invite specified users to your Google Drive they can create, delete, upload and download files all behind a secure login. Vsftpd is excellent for company’s looking for an alternative to Google Drive or for anyone who wants to create a robust server. This “Very Secure File Transfer Protocol Daemon” is favored for its security and speed and we’ll be showing you how to install vsftpd on an Ubuntu 16.04 LTS server.

 

Pre-Flight Check

  • These instructions are intended specifically for installing vsftpd on Ubuntu 16.04.
  • You must be logged in via SSH as the root user to follow these directions.
Warning:
FTP data is insecure; traffic is not encrypted, and all transmissions are clear text, including usernames, passwords, commands, and data. Consider securing your FTP connection (FTPS).

Step 1: Updating Apt-Get

As a matter of best practices we update apt-get with the following command:

apt-get update

Step 2: Installing Vsftpd

One command allows us to install vsftpd very easily.

apt-get -y install vsftpd

Step 3: Configuring Vsftpd

We’ve installed vsftpd, and now we will edit some options that will help us to protect the FTP environment and enable the environment for utilization. Enter the configuration file using the text editor of your choice.

vim /etc/vsftpd.conf

Change the values in the config file to match the values below and lastly, save exit by typing

:wq

 

anonymous_enable=NO
local_enable=YES
write_enable=YES
chroot_local_user=YES
ascii_upload_enable=YES
ascii_download_enable=YES

 

Click Here for a Further Explaination on Each Directive
Anonymous_enable: Prohibit anonymous internet users access files from your FTP. Change anonymous_enable section to NO.

Local_enable: If you have created users you can allow these users to log in by changing the local_enable setting to YES.

Write_enabled: Enable users the ability to write the directory, allowing them to upload files. Uncomment by removing the # in from of write_enabled:

Chroot jail: You can “chroot jail” local users, restricting them to their home directories (/home/username) and prohibiting access to any other part of the server. Choosing this is optional but if you state YES follow the steps in Step 4 for removing write privileges and making their own directory for uploads. If you select NO, the user will have access to other directories.

Step 4: Editing Permissions for a User

If you have an existing or new user that is not able to connect, try removing write privileges to their directory:

chmod a-w /home/username

Step 5: Creating the User a Directory

Create a directory just for FTP, in this case, and we are name it files. Afterward, this user will be able to upload and create files within the files folder:

mkdir /home/username/files

Step 6: Accepting FTP Traffic to Ports

There are a few ways to open ports within a server, below is one way of opening port 20 and 21 for FTP users to connect.

Note
Directly passing iptable commands, like below, can break some firewalls. In whichever method you choose to edit your iptables ensure that port 20 and 21 are open.

iptables -I INPUT 1 -p tcp --dport=20 -j ACCEPT

iptables -I INPUT 1 -p tcp --dport=21 -j ACCEPT

Step 7: Restarting the Vsftpd Service

Restarting vsftpd enables changes to the file (step 3) to be recognized.

service vsftpd restart

Step 8: Verifying Vsftpd

Now for a little fun, let’s connect to our FTP to verify it is working.

ftp 79.212.205.191

Example Output:

ftp 79.212.205.191
Connected to 79.212.205.191.
220 Welcome to FTP!
Name (79.212.205.191:terminalusername):<enter your FTP user>

You’ll also be able to connect via an FTP client, like Filezilla, using the IP address of your hostname and leaving the port number blank.  Take it for a spin and try to upload a file or write a file. If you enabled the chroot jail option, the user should not be able to go to any other parent directory.

 

How to Install and Configure vsftpd on CentOS 7

Reading Time: 2 minutes

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is one of the most popular methods to upload files to a server. There exist a wide array of FTP servers, such as vsftpd, you can use and FTP clients exist for every platform.

Essentially no matter what OS you use you can find an easy to use FTP client, so it makes for a great solution to transfer files. On CentOS based servers before you can connect via FTP you’ll have to setup an FTP server. Here we’re gonna setup vsftpd which is a great option since it has a focus on security and speed.

Continue reading “How to Install and Configure vsftpd on CentOS 7”

What is SSH?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

SSH, or secure shell, is a network protocol used for secure network communications and remote command execution. Common use cases for SSH include: controlling computers remotely and securing network services. A great example of securing other services is the SFTP protocol which uses SSH to securely connect to a server and FTP to transfer the files. Continue reading “What is SSH?”

Uploading Files to Cloud Sites Using FTP

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Pre-flight Check:

  • Basic knowledge of FTP client usage is recommended.
  • These instructions assume you already have an FTP client installed on your computer.
  • A Liquid Web account with the Cloud Sites product will be necessary to follow along.

Upload site files to Cloud Sites via FTP

You may have heard of FTP—File Transfer Protocol. FTP moves files from your local computer to your website. However, FTP is not a secure file transfer method. Malicious attacks often target FTP.
Continue reading “Uploading Files to Cloud Sites Using FTP”

How To Create Additional FTP Accounts in cPanel

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This tutorial assumes you’ve already logged in to cPanel, and are starting on the home screen. Let’s learn how to set up additional FTP accounts.

cpanel-paperlantern-17-ftp--01

  1. Click the “FTP Accounts” icon.cpanel-paperlantern-17-ftp--02
  2. To create a new FTP account, enter a new login and password.cpanel-paperlantern-17-ftp--03
  3. Then click “Create FTP Account”.cpanel-paperlantern-17-ftp--04
  4. That’s it! The new FTP account has been created.cpanel-paperlantern-17-ftp--05
  5. You can then change the FTP account’s password, quota, or delete the account.cpanel-paperlantern-17-ftp--06

 

How to Install and Configure vsftpd on Ubuntu 15.04

Reading Time: 2 minutes

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is likely the most well-known method of uploading files to a server; a wide array of FTP servers, such as vsftpd, and clients exist for every platform.

Pre-Flight Check

  • These instructions are intended specifically for installing the vsfptd on Ubuntu 15.04.
  • I’ll be working from a Liquid Web Core Managed Ubuntu 15.04 server, and I’ll be logged in as root.

Continue reading “How to Install and Configure vsftpd on Ubuntu 15.04”