Privacy and Information Security | University of Illinois


These tools provide alternatives to telnet and unsecured FTP.


SSH, SCP and SFTP are secure tools that help with specific connections back to campus. These tools are great for anyone currently using telnet or an unsecured FTP service. Unless you have a specific need for one of these tools, most people will be able to securely connect back to campus with the CITES VPN.

SSH (Secure Shell) is the recommended software package for connecting to remote computers. All SSH traffic is encrypted from the moment you are prompted for your username to the moment you log out. By comparison, all telnet traffic is unencrypted, meaning that anything you type, including your username and password, can easily be intercepted by anyone on the network.

The SSH package includes two related applications for secure file transfer. Like SSH, both are encrypted from end to end and are highly recommended as replacements to their non-secure counterparts. Secure Copy (SCP) replaces the old rcp command, and Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) replaces ftp.

SCP is ideal for quick transfer of single files, such as email attachments. SFTP is not as widely supported as SCP, but it's ideal if you don't remember the path to your target directory or if you have a lot of files to transfer.

For more information about acquiring and using SSH, SCP, and/or SFTP for your computer, look for your operating system in the list below.

Unix, Linux, or Macintosh OS X

SSH documentation: SSH for Unix, Linux, or Macintosh OS X

File transfer documentation: SCP and SFTP for Unix, Linux, or Macintosh OS X


SSH documentation: PuTTY for Windows

File transfer documentation: WinSCP for Windows (also supports SFTP)