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From André Warnier>
Subject Re: [users@httpd] Block IP
Date Fri, 06 Jun 2008 21:57:20 GMT

Chris Tankersley wrote:
> Mohit Anchlia wrote:
>> On 6/6/08, *André Warnier* < <>> wrote:
>>     Mohit Anchlia wrote:
>>         On 6/5/08, André Warnier < <>>
>>         wrote:
>>             Mohit Anchlia wrote:
>>                 On 6/5/08, André Warnier <
>>                 <>> wrote:
>>                     Mohit Anchlia wrote:
>>                     On 6/5/08, André Warnier <
>>                     <>> wrote:
>>                             Mohit Anchlia wrote:
>>                             On 6/4/08, Dragon <
>>                             <>> wrote:
>>                                 André Warnier wrote:
>>                                     Mohit Anchlia wrote:
>>                                     2. Another question I had was
>>                                     sometimes we don't get real physical IP
>>                                         of
>>                                         the
>>                                             machine but the IP of
>>                                             something that's in between
>>                                             like "router", is
>>                                             there
>>                                             a
>>                                             way to get the real IP so
>>                                             that we don't end up
>>                                             blocking people
>>                                             coming
>>                                             from
>>                                             that "router" or "proxy"
>>                                             In my opinion, you cannot.
>>                                              The whole point of such
>>                                             routers and
>>                                             proxies
>>                                             is
>>                                         to make the requests look like
>>                                         they are coming from the
>>                                         router/proxy,
>>                                         so
>>                                         that is the sender IP address
>>                                         you are seeing at your server level,
>>                                         and
>>                                         that's it.  Your server never
>>                                         receives the original requester IP
>>                                         address.
>>                                         ---------------- End original
>>                                         message. ---------------------
>>                                         There are legitimate reasons for
>>                                         this to be done as well,
>>                                     indiscriminately
>>                                     blocking such access is a bad idea
>>                                     as it will affect legitimate
>>                                     users.
>>                                     NAT
>>                                     and IP address sharing are among the
>>                                     reasons. This allows an
>>                                     organization
>>                                     to
>>                                     have a router with one public IP
>>                                     address to serve a larger internal
>>                                     network
>>                                     with private IP addresses. Without
>>                                     this, we would have run out of
>>                                     IPv4
>>                                     addresses a long time ago.
>>                                     Dragon
>>                                     If there is no way to get the real
>>                                     IP address then how would router
>>                                 know
>>                                 which machine to direct the response to.
>>                                 It got to have some
>>                                 information
>>                                 in
>>                                 the packet. For eg: If A send to router
>>                                 B and router sends to C then
>>                                 when
>>                                 C
>>                                 responds how would B know that the
>>                                 response is for A.
>>                                 You are perfectly right : the router
>>                                 knows the real IP address.  But
>>                                 it
>>                                 will not tell you, haha.
>>                             Seriously, this is how it works :
>>                             the original system sends out an "open
>>                             session" packet, through the
>>                             router,
>>                             to the final destination.
>>                             The router sees this packet, and analyses
>>                             it.  It extracts the IP
>>                             address
>>                             and port of the original sender, and keeps
>>                             it in a table.
>>                             Then it replaces the IP address by it's own,
>>                             adds some port number, and
>>                             also memorises this new port number in the
>>                             same table entry.
>>                             Then it sends the modified packet to the
>>                             external server (yours).
>>                             It knows that the server on the other side
>>                             is going to respond to this
>>                             same
>>                             IP address and port (the ones of the router).
>>                             When the return packet from the server comes
>>                             back, the router looks at
>>                             the
>>                             port in it, finds the corresponding entry in
>>                             it's table, and now it
>>                             knows
>>                             to
>>                             whom it should send the packet internally.
>>                             And so on.
>>                             So :
>>                             - the router knows everything
>>                             - the internal system thinks it is talking
>>                             directly to the external
>>                             server
>>                             - the external server (yours) only sees the
>>                             router IP and port, so it
>>                             thinks that is where the packet comes from.
>>                             That's NAT for you, in a nutshell.
>>                             Yes ?
>>                             ---
>>                             Thanks for the great explanation. But, I
>>                             wonder how do people design
>>                         app
>>                         agains Denial of Service attack. Say Computer A
>>                         uses Cox/Times warner
>>                         (cable) Internet connection and starts attacking
>>                         B, then how would a
>>                         system be configured in a way that not all the
>>                         users using Times
>>                         Warner/Cox
>>                         are affected. Should it be granular enough to
>>                         give IP and source Port in
>>                         IP
>>                         blocking rules ?
>>                         I think that is quite a different case.  Not all
>>                         users of an ISP (like
>>                     the
>>                     one you mention I suppose) are "behind" a NAT router
>>                     that hides their IP
>>                     address.  Instead, these ISP's have a large pool of
>>                     public IP addresses
>>                     which they "own", and they attribute them
>>                     dynamically to users when they
>>                     connect (and put the address back in the pool when
>>                     the user disconnects).
>>                     If a DOS attack came from a router with a fixed IP
>>                     address, and everyone
>>                     would know that this IP address belongs to company
>>                     xyz, I'm sure that it
>>                     would not be long before company xyz would be facing
>>                     a big lawsuit.
>>                     But in the case of an ISP, with tens of thousands of
>>                     customers, each one
>>                     of
>>                     which gets a different IP address each time he turns
>>                     on his computer (and
>>                     anyway once per 24 hours in general), finding out
>>                     who exactly was "
>>                     <>"
>>                     between 17:45 and 17:53
>>                     yesterday is a bit more time-consuming.
>>                     But in that case anyway, you do have a real
>>                     individual sender IP address
>>                     when the packet reaches your server, so you can
>>                     decide to block it.
>>                     And keep blocking all packets from this address for
>>                     the next 24 hours.
>>                     And that's exactly what many servers do.
>>                     And that is also why sometimes you may turn on your
>>                     PC at home (getting a
>>                     brand-new IP address) and find out that you cannot
>>                     connect to some server
>>                     because it is rejecting your IP address.  Chances
>>                     are that you are
>>                     unlucky
>>                     enough to have received today the IP address that
>>                     was used yesterday by
>>                     someone else who used it to send out 1M emails.
>>                     But isn't this getting a bit off-topic ?
>>                     If you want to know more about this, I suggest you
>>                     Google a bit on
>>                     "blacklists", "greylists" and "whitelists" for example.
>>                     or start here :
>>                  Thanks did go off-track a little bit and but it
>>                 helps me understand
>>                 what I should expect when doing such a blocking. Thanks
>>                 for your
>>                 explanation.
>>                 Now coming back on track, out of below 2 approaches
>>                 which one is better:
>>                 1. Use "deny from IP" in <LocationMatch>
>>                 2. Use RewriteCond and call a perl script dynamically.
>>                 This helps me
>>                 configure IP dynamically without having to stop and
>>                 start servers
>>                 everytime
>>                 I change httpd.conf
>>                 Is there any performance impact of using 2 over 1 or any
>>                 other issues.
>>             There will be a very big difference : in case (1), the IP
>>             addresses or
>>             ranges are pre-processed by Apache at startup time, and the
>>             comparison will
>>             be made by an internal (and fast) Apache module, on the base
>>             of information
>>             in memory.  In case (2), not only are you using a rewrite of
>>             the URI, but in
>>             addition you will be executing a script, which itself is
>>             going to read an
>>             external file.  That is going to be several hundred times
>>             slower, at least.
>>              Thousands of times slower if you recompile and execute the
>>             script with perl
>>             each time (if not under mod_perl).
>>             Now wether it matters or not in your case, depends on the
>>             load of your
>>             server. If it is doing nothing anyway 90% of the time, it
>>             doesn't matter.
>>              An Apache restart may or may not be such a big problem
>>             either, it all
>>             depends on your circumstances.
>>             But rather than using a perl script, I would definitely in
>>             that case use a
>>             mod_perl add-on module written as a PerlAccessHandler.  But
>>             that's another
>>             story, and one more for the mod_perl list.
>>             I would bet that there exists already such a mod_perl module
>>             by the way.
>>             Have a look here :
>>             <>
>>             or, there is probably an example in the Mod_perl Cookbook
>>         As per your suggestion I looked at PerlAccessHandler, how would this
>>         approach be in terms of performance as compared to have "deny
>>         from IP", is
>>         it still going to be really bad.
>>          <Location /URL>
>>            PerlAccessHandler Example::AccessHandler
>>          </Location>
>>         I will try running some test also.
>>     Well again, it all depends on your circumstances, what you want to
>>     achieve, how many accesses you expect, why exactly you want to block
>>     or allow some IPs, how many different IP's or IP ranges you would
>>     want to allow/block, how often they change, in function of what they
>>     change, whether it is a big problem or not for you to do an Apache
>>     restart, how loaded your system is expected to be, etc..
>>     Even if one solution looks like it is 200 times slower than another,
>>     but your server is only loaded at 10% (happens more frequently than
>>     you would think), and it really makes your life easier for the next
>>     3 years, it's worth looking at.
>>     And even if one solution is 200 times slower than another, that can
>>     still mean 0,1 millisecond, so is it important for you ?
>>     A simple tip :
>>     in the Apache configuration file, you can use an "include"
>>     directive, I believe just about anywhere, to insert at that point
>>     another bit of configuration file.
>>     You could have a simple text file containing all your
>>     Deny from *MailScanner warning: numerical links are often
>>     malicious:* <>
>>     Deny from *MailScanner warning: numerical links are often
>>     malicious:* <>
>>     ...
>>     lines, and include it wherever you want.
>>     Then a simple Apache restart would re-read it.
>>     A this file could be written and re-written by some external script
>>     which decides which IPs are allowed or not. Or edited with vi
>>     manually, if that is how often changes happen.
>>     If you have a PerlAccessHandler under mod_perl :
>>     - perl itself is part of the server, so it does not have to be
>>     reloaded each time
>>     - the handler gets compiled once the first time it is run, and the
>>     compiled code is re-used afterward
>>     - it can be smart, and only re-read the IP address list, and rebuild
>>     its internal table when the file changes
>>     - and in the meantime, it uses the table in memory
>>     So in that case you would not have to restart Apache, and any
>>     changes would take effect immediately.
>>     Also, something else :
>>     So far, you have been talking about blocking HTTP accesses at the
>>     Apache level. But maybe you want to block more than port 80 from
>>     those IP addresses, and maybe you should do this outside of Apache,
>>     before it even gets to Apache ?
>>     There are many solutions, but you are the one to decide which one
>>     you implement. 
>> Thanks. You are right we should not even let these people get to Apache.
>> We have that process in place, but it often takes time to get that
>> request approved and processed by Network team. Meanwhile we want
>> something that we can block on ASAP. I am not sure how often this list
>> will change. To begin with this list is going to be empty. Only when we
>> experience DOS then we will update the IP.
>> We expect to get 1000s of requests per second. Since it's going to be
>> highly loaded server I started to think about something that would
>> change dynamically. You mentioned the code is compiled when apache
>> restarts, which means that if I keep list of IPs as an array inside the
>> perl script is not going to take affect until next restart. Only option
>> I think then is to read the list from flat file. I just have one basic
>> question about mod_perl. Does apache web server executes one process of
>> perl per request ? Reason I am asking is because you mentioned I could
>> read the list from memory, and I am not sure how would it read from
>> memory when this script will be executed every time it tries to process
>> the request. Because if I try to read from file then every request will
>> try to open the file and read from it. It looks like a stateless.
>> Thanks for detailed explanation. It does clear lot of things and also is
>> giving me different view points. Include directive was a great tip that
>> I wasn't aware of.
> This does go off-topic, but why not use an external program to manage
> all this for you at the OS level? On *nix, OSSEC (which is free) can
> watch logs for 404 errors and dynamically block IP's at the OS level via
> what they term 'active response'. Once blocked, those IPs don't even
> make it to Apache and its all done dynamically. In my experience, OSSEC
> will block an abusive user within just a few seconds of Apache writing
> it to the logs.
> For Windows, I'm sure there is software to block IP's at the OS level.

Sometimes, the punch-line is a long time in coming :
"We expect to get 1000s of requests per second. "

I do not really have much experience with that kind of volume (ok, I 
admit, none).  But in such a case, my instinctive reaction would be to 
think about a solution outside of the httpd server, before it even 
starts consuming httpd server cpu cycles.  Maybe even outside of the 
httpd host, before it starts consuming host cpu cycles.
If one has to log 1000's of requests/s, and have some process scan this 
log to determine if some IP's need to be blocked, I have this hunch that 
it's not going to work nicely.
So, what about a nice little diskless box in front, doing just that, and 
save the Apache resources to serve nice pages to the nice customers ?

Now just by curiosity Mohit, what kind of site are you setting up there 
?  And on which kind of system ?


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