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Our company's websites are all located on a high performance web server, including several development and internal-only projects.

A handful of our sites are public sites that need regular back-end updates. These updates are made by a third-party contract SEO/design firm.

I need to setup a single FTP account that the 3rd party firm can use to access ONLY those sites via FTP (or ideally, SFTP) in order to modify files there. I do NOT want them to have any access whatsoever to the rest of our server or our other websites.


To illustrate my situation, let's assume for a moment I have four websites configured as Virtual Hosts in Apache:

These exist on my server in the following locations:


Now, I need the "contentsite" hosts to allow access via an FTP account to modify files. The "internalsite" hosts should be accessible only by users who are logged in (i.e. through standard SSH).

** What I've Tried **

Earlier today, I experimented with modifying my SSH configuration to create chroot'ed users using the internal-sftp and ChrootDirectory features of OpenSSH. However, the configuration was getting very complicated and I cannot risk breaking SSH access to my server, so I backed away from that approach.

Currently, I'm trying to figure out how to use vsftpd to achieve my goal; but so far I'm only able to setup a single account with access to a single directory. This would probably suffice, but vsftpd has dozens of options and no clear documentation on achieving this particular setup.

The Question

How can I enable a single ftp user account to acesss to multiple directory locations on the server, one representing each ?

Note: Links to clear tutorials are welcome.

EDIT: While I'd prefer them to login via SFTP, I'd settle for ordinary FTP access. I just need to create a single FTP Account on the server that has access to each of the three website locations in question.-

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I've considered using one of the FTP servers out there (vsftpd, proftpd, or pure-ftpd). However, I'd prefer to require these folks to access the server via SFTP if possible. – Brian Lacy Nov 2 '10 at 17:16
The problem I'm encountering with each of the options so far described, is that I need ONE user to be able to login to each of the content sites. Effectively what I'm looking for is an FTP/SFTP equivalent to Apache's Virtual Hosts feature. I've heard that Pure-FTPd, ProFTPd, and WU-FTPd all support this, but that only VSFTPd is considered secure enough for a live public server. – Brian Lacy Nov 3 '10 at 15:38
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Consider chroot'ing the users. Here's a guide for Ubuntu but should be adaptable.

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I've never used chroot'ing before; however the article indicates that I'd have to purge SSH from the system. This is a production server; I can't afford to making such sweeping changes. Not to mention I would no longer have the ability to access the server (which is remotely located)! – Brian Lacy Nov 2 '10 at 17:27
Sorry about that. I didn't read the "from scratch" in the howto. If you are running a newer version of openssh-server, you should be able to configure this through sshd_config. What version of sftp-server and what platform are you running? – dmah Nov 2 '10 at 17:53
You may want to try this guide. – dmah Nov 2 '10 at 18:21
This is what I ended up doing, actually; although the guides you provided weren't very clear about a couple of points, such as the fact that the actual jail directory (and all parent directories of it) must be owned by root. – Brian Lacy Nov 18 '10 at 16:44

Here is a guide for installing and setting up scponly, a package that provides an alternate login shell. The basic idea is that you set the login shell of a user to /usr/bin/scponly, and then that user can only use SFTP or SCP; he/she cannot get a command-line shell.

The scponly package provides a chroot option as well, involving a second alternate login shell (/usr/sbin/scponlyc), and a little extra setup. Be sure to read the entire forum thread there, as some additional tips are given by others in response to the main article.

The guide is somewhat Ubuntu-specific, but it should work just as well with Debian, or any Debian-derived distro. If your Linux is none of these, you should still be able to download the source, compile it yourself, and then follow the steps outlined in the guide.

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