Internet Protocols That Need To Die – My Top 3

February 4, 2008

by — Posted in Personal Writing, Security, Technology

The IETF has maintained the RFC database which defines Internet protocols into the nitty gritty sections that allows other individuals to implement them.  This is all great in theory the problem is some protocols out live their usefulness.  The problem is the insecurity and unfeasibility of these protocols remaining in existence compromises design that should be far more streamlined and elegant.    Without further ado here is my top 10.

1.  FTP

Yes even I use ftp since my hosting provider has made this the only efficient method of getting groups of files on to my hosting page.   A better scenario would be an SSH tunnel or a full webDAV implementation that allowed me access.   Back when I was doing firewall tech support FTP and explaining to people the difference between active FTP and passive FTP.  Here is part of the snippet I used to send to customer to understand at a high level:

In passive mode the computer sends out two data streams – one to request which data to download and another to actually download the data on a random port.   In active mode the computer sends out a data stream requesting the data – then the remote computer connects in on a random port to the requester.

Now  FTP has a bit of usefulness left in since I myself admitted to using it, so where is the complaint?  My complaint a modern protocol should be able to make a connection and transfer files without requiring two ports, a data port and a control port.   This causes havoc on a firewall especially in active mode.   They have tried to shoehorn in encryption as an after thought but this has issues traversing proxy firewall since the proxy firewall has no idea what the data port is going ot be since the connection is encrypted.   Please move on to HTTP for downloading across the web, or bittorrent, or WebDAV – lot’s of modern protocols could be used to address this instead of trying to fix FTP.

2. NFS

I wrote my diatribe about NFS here – I have no reason to rehash it twice in one day.

3.  Gopher

Gopher was the protocol that predated modern web browsers.   Granted I had a grand old time on gopher hosts back in my college days and later crawling through the Internet from the library’s card catalog computers, but enough is enough.  Gopher has no relevance or usefulness in todays internet.    I still see a strong point for the lynx web browser compared to what I could ever fathom using gopher again – HTTP won get over it.

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