Friday, February 6, 2015

Configuring GeoIP support for Shorewall on Ubuntu 14.04

If you've run fail2ban on any of your servers, see fail2ban with Shorewall, you'll quickly find out that a majority of the banned IPs will originate from many of the same countries, usually China. One of the techniques I previously used to block out an entire country's network range was to use ipsets. I used custom bash scripts to pull down zone information from and import them into separate ipsets for countries I wanted. There were certain limitations with this solution, however, such as maintaining up to date ipsets across multiple servers, some issues with Shorewall losing the ipsets across reboots or restarts, and the US netblock space being to large to fit into a single ipset.

Shorewall version 4.5.4 introduced the ability to support GeoIP 2-character ISO 3166 country codes. This method is far more efficient and easier to maintain as the GeoIP database holds all the netblocks for all the countries in the world in an offline hashed database.

xt_geoip module installation

The first step is to install the xt_geoip kernel module which allows you to reference two letter country codes (e.g. US, CN, UK, CA, FR, etc.) in iptables or Shorewall.

This module can be found in the xtables-addons-common 2.3-1 package, but do not install this default package to use the xt_geoip module. I probably spent over 4 hours trying to figure out why my virtual machine was crashing every time a rule triggered the use of the xt_geoip module only to find out that there's a verified bug that causes a kernel panic.

Patrick Domack PPA to the rescue

Fortunately, if you read the bug comments, a user by the name of Patrick Domack provided his own PPA with a packaged version of xtables-addons-common version 2.6-1~ppa1 which fixes this bug.

Add the PPA with apt-add-repository ppa:patrickdk/general-lucid:

root@ubuntu:~# add-apt-repository ppa:patrickdk/general-lucid

 Packages used for my personal productions systems where newer versions or special patches are needed.
 More info:
Press [ENTER] to continue or ctrl-c to cancel adding it

gpg: keyring `/tmp/tmp24yt3e8g/secring.gpg' created
gpg: keyring `/tmp/tmp24yt3e8g/pubring.gpg' created
gpg: requesting key 4D79B5B5 from hkp server
gpg: /tmp/tmp24yt3e8g/trustdb.gpg: trustdb created
gpg: key 4D79B5B5: public key "Launchpad PPA for Patrick Domack" imported
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg:               imported: 1  (RSA: 1)

apt-get update to update the repository and verify the new version of xtables-addons-common is available:

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get update

root@ubuntu:~# apt-cache show xtables-addons-common
Package: xtables-addons-common
Source: xtables-addons
Priority: extra
Section: admin
Installed-Size: 326
Maintainer: Pierre Chifflier 
Architecture: amd64
Version: 2.6-1~ppa1

Install xtables-addons-common and verify the correct version is installed:

root@ubuntu:~# aptitude -yvV install xtables-addons-common

root@ubuntu:~# dpkg -l | grep xtables-addons-common
ii  xtables-addons-common               2.6-1~ppa1                    amd64        Extensions targets and matches for iptables [tools, libs]

Building the GeoIP database for xt_geoip

The package will install two scripts in the /usr/lib/xtables-addons directory:

root@ubuntu:~# ls /usr/lib/xtables-addons/
xt_geoip_build  xt_geoip_dl
  • According to the "xt_geoip_dl simply calls wget on the hardcoded URLs and unpacks the retrieved files into the current directory. Then use xt_geoip_build to transform the CSV into the packed format"

The xt_geoip_dl script uses the unzip utility to unpack the a .csv file, install unzip if it isn't already:

root@ubuntu:~# aptitude -yvV install unzip

Change into /tmp and run /usr/lib/xtables-addons/xt_geoip_dl:

root@ubuntu:/tmp# /usr/lib/xtables-addons/xt_geoip_dl

Note that both iptables and shorewall will look for the GeoIP database in the /usr/share/xt_geoip directory, by default it is not created. Also, the build script requires the libtext-csv-xs-perl module to parse the .csv file.

Create the /usr/share/xt_geoip directory and install the required perl module:

root@ubuntu:/tmp# mkdir /usr/share/xt_geoip
root@ubuntu:/tmp# aptitude -yvV install libtext-csv-xs-perl

Run the build script to create the GeoIP database from the .csv files and place the them in the /usr/share/xt_geoip directory:

root@ubuntu:/tmp# /usr/lib/xtables-addons/xt_geoip_build -D /usr/share/xt_geoip *.csv

Loading the module and configuring Shorewall

Load the kernel module and verify it was loaded:

root@ubuntu:~# modprobe xt_geoip
root@ubuntu:~# lsmod | grep ^xt_geoip
xt_geoip               12775  0 

For verification I'm going to add a rule to reject and log any ping from my virtual machine to any address in the United States. Note, I wouldn't recommend blocking all of U.S. in production, because the IP addresses to Google for other countries are still considered U.S. based. Though whitelisting the U.S. address space may be useful in some environments.

Edit the /etc/shorewall/rules file:

Ping(REJECT):info $FW  net:^[US]
  • The format for referencing countries is ^[<Country Code>].
  • Multiple countries can be specified in the brackets, e.g. ^[US,FR,CA,UK].
  • See for more information.

Check and restart Shorewall:

root@ubuntu:/etc/shorewall# shorewall check
root@ubuntu:/etc/shorewall# shorewall restart

Now we'll test ping to

root@ubuntu:/etc/shorewall# ping -n -c 2
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
From icmp_seq=1 Destination Host Unreachable
From icmp_seq=1 Destination Host Unreachable

--- ping statistics ---
0 packets transmitted, 0 received, +2 errors

Working as intended. Let's see what Shorewall logged:

Feb  6 23:34:27 ubuntu kernel: [  942.806263] Shorewall:fw2net:REJECT:IN= OUT=eth0 SRC= DST= LEN=84 TOS=0x00 PREC=0x00 TTL=64 ID=9477 DF PROTO=ICMP TYPE=8 CODE=0 ID=5713 SEQ=1 
Feb  6 23:34:27 ubuntu kernel: [  942.807537] Shorewall:fw2net:REJECT:IN= OUT=eth0 SRC= DST= LEN=84 TOS=0x00 PREC=0x00 TTL=64 ID=9478 DF PROTO=ICMP TYPE=8 CODE=0 ID=5713 SEQ=1 
Feb  6 23:35:26 ubuntu kernel: [ 1002.101682] Shorewall:fw2net:REJECT:IN= OUT=eth0 SRC= DST= LEN=84 TOS=0x00 PREC=0x00 TTL=64 ID=63477 DF PROTO=ICMP TYPE=8 CODE=0 ID=5730 SEQ=1 
Feb  6 23:35:26 ubuntu kernel: [ 1002.101924] Shorewall:fw2net:REJECT:IN= OUT=eth0 SRC= DST= LEN=84 TOS=0x00 PREC=0x00 TTL=64 ID=63478 DF PROTO=ICMP TYPE=8 CODE=0 ID=5730 SEQ=1 

And for more verification, to see it isn't blocking IP addresses that are non-US owned, we'll ping

root@ubuntu:/etc/shorewall# ping -n -c 2
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=51 time=297 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=51 time=296 ms

--- ping statistics ---
2 packets transmitted, 2 received, 0% packet loss, time 1001ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 296.200/296.846/297.493/0.845 ms


Using GeoIP support in Shorewall is a much quicker way to blacklist or whitelist large country IP address ranges, when compared to using just ipsets. Though this does not diminish the use cases of ipsets, as they are very useful in many different solutions which I will eventually cover in the future.



  1. I got an error on this command, "modprobe xt_geoi"

    modprobe: ERROR: ../libkmod/libkmod.c:556 kmod_search_moddep() could not open moddep file '/lib/modules/4.1.0-x86_64-linode59/modules.dep.bin'

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. 24 hours and I'm one step closer to solving this problem! I found linode was using it's own kernel. I moved to Grub 2, which allows me to run a distribution provided kernel. Now when I run "modprobe xt_geoip", I get this:

      modprobe: FATAL: Module xt_geoip not found.

    3. In order to install the correct kernel module you need to additionally run the following command -

      module-assistant auto-install xtables-addons-source

      This will download and install software to compile your own kernel module. Running this should go through and install the correct module however half way through it will warn of an error. When asked simply select
      "CONTINUE Skip and continue with the next operation"
      and it goes through fine!
      You can then run 'modprobe xt_geoip'
      Also I ran
      apt-get install libxtables10 xtables-addons-common xtables-addons-dkms libtext-csv-xs-perl
      rather than just
      apt-get install xtables-addons-common
      though I don't know if that is needed...