Mozilla has completely removed support for the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) from the latest release of its flagship Firefox web browser.
Built on a client-server model architecture and in use for roughly five decades, FTP allows for the easy transfer of files and folders between computers. However, because data is transmitted unencrypted, the protocol has long been considered insecure. Secure variants do exist, including one that leverages SSL/TLS (FTPS), or the SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP).
Almost since the beginning, FTP has been supported by all major browsers, but security problems have resulted in decreased usage, as well as deprecation in favor of more secure alternatives.
Furthermore, FTP has been abused in various malware distribution campaigns, some of which involved the compromise of FTP servers to leverage the protocol for payload delivery.
“Aligning with our intent to deprecate non-secure HTTP and increase the percentage of secure connections, we, as well as other major web browsers, decided to discontinue support of the FTP protocol,” Mozilla explained.
The open-source group initially announced plans to remove FTP support in Firefox in March 2020 – a couple of months after Google deprecated the protocol in Chrome – and disabled it by default in Firefox 88. The protocol is no longer supported in Firefox starting with version 90.
“Removing FTP brings us closer to a fully-secure web which is on a path to becoming HTTPS only and any modern automated upgrading mechanisms such as HSTS or also Firefox’s HTTPS-Only Mode, which automatically upgrade any connection to become secure and encrypted do not apply to FTP,” Mozilla added.
By completely removing FTP support in Firefox, Mozilla also ensures that the browser’s users are safe from any type of attacks that leverage the protocol for malware delivery.