Configuring Your Firewall Settings

Secure FTP (File Transfer Protocol) supports three methods for securely exchanging files with the Clearinghouse:

> Web Browser Interface (HTTPS)

Web browsers use port 443 for establishing secure connections to the server.

  • REQUIRED: Allow TCP Port-443 to FTPS.NSLC.ORG

> Also see Uploading Files via the Web Browser Interface

> FTP over SSL Clients (FTPS)

FTP connections are established from the client to the server via Explicit or Implicit control channels. Explicit FTPS control connections take place on TCP port 21. Implicit FTPS control connections take place on TCP port 990.

Once the control channel is established, the client and server negotiate a port for either PASSIVE or ACTIVE MODE data transfers. ACTIVE mode transfers take place on TCP port 20. PASSIVE mode transfers take place on a TCP port in the range 3000-3050. “Regular” FTP typically uses ACTIVE mode.

However, for SSL connections, the Clearinghouse strongly recommends using PASSIVE MODE FTP transfers due to the following:

  • Simply specifying “FTP” on your firewall will rarely be enough to allow secure FTP through. Firewalls that “understand FTP” look for the phrase “PORT” in data channels and open temporary holes in the firewall for communications over the designated ports between the two machines on either side of the data channel. However, secure data channels are encrypted, meaning the firewall will be unable to open any temporary ports.
Firewall Settings for Clearinghouse Recommended Implicit Control Channel, Passive Transfers:
    • REQUIRED: Allow TCP Port-990 to FTPS.NSLC.ORG (control channel)
    • REQUIRED: Allow TCP Port range 3000-3050 to FTPS.NSLC.ORG (data channel)
Alternate Firewall Settings for Explicit Control Channel, Active Transfers:
    • REQUIRED: Allow TCP Port-21 to FTPS.NSLC.ORG (control channel)
    • REQUIRED: Allow TCP Port-20 to FTPS.NSLC.ORG (data channel)

> FTP over SSH Clients (SFTP)

A one-port SSH tunnel is established to support FTP over SSH clients. The use of a single SSH tunnel has an advantage over the multiple encrypted data streams used by FTP over SSL: fewer ports need to be opened on a firewall.

  • REQUIRED: Allow TCP Port-22 to FTPS.NSLC.ORG

Secure FTP Settings

Internet Domain
Web Site Address
Mailbox (User) ID Usually your OPE ID (colleges) or NCES (high schools) Number
Home Folder Same as your mailbox ID
Receive Sub-Folder
(if applicable)
Password Initially set by the Clearinghouse
Password Administration Can be set by you or the Clearinghouse

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