Installation and Usage Guide for CSF firewall

CSF stands for Configserver security and firewall. CSF is a configuration script built to provide better security to servers , at the same time providing a large number of configuration options and features to configure and secure with extra checks to ensure smooth operation. It helps in locking down public access and to restrict what can be accessed like only e-mails or only websites, etc. To add more power to this, it comes with a Login Failure Daemon (LFD) script that runs all the time to scan for failed attempts to login to the server to detect bruteforce-attacks. There are an array of extensive checks that lfd can perform to help alert the server administrator of changes to the server, potential problems and possible compromises.

LFD also blocks IPs if a huge number of failed logins are appearing from that IP. The block is temporary. It also allows the admin to view the blocked IP by enabling an email alert service. Some of the features include:

  • Login Tracking
  • Process Tracking
  • Directory Watching
  • Advanced Allow/Deny features
  • Block Reporting
  • Port Flood Protection

And many more. This post does not cover all the features and thus for more detailed information about each of the features read the "readme.txt" file from the csf folder that we will download.

2 Downloading and Installing

The first step involves removing any previous version of csf that might have been downloaded and then downloading the latest version. To perform these use the following two commands:

rm -fv csf.tgz
wget http://www.configserver.com/free/csf.tgz

Now we extract the tar file in the home directory and move into the csf directory.

tar -xzf csf.tgz
cd csf

The steps till here are shown in the image below.

Now we are ready to install, but before we can, we will need to have root privileges else we will not be able to install. So, use the following command to gain root privilege and type in the password if asked.

sudo su

Install CSF using the following command:

sh install.sh

Once the installation is over successfully, the output will look similar to the image below.

Once the installation is complete, we can do the verification.To do so, we test if our system has all the required iptables modules. Now when this is run, it might indicate that you might not be able to run all the features but that is alright. This test can be considered as PASS as long as the script doesn't report any FATAL errors. To test it, use the following command:

perl /usr/local/csf/bin/csftest.pl

My result of running this test is shown in the image below:

3 Remove other firewalls

It is important to remove older firewalls or any other firewalls setup to protect the server. This is because the conflict of Firewalls can lead to failures or inaccessibility. You should also not install any other iptables firewall and if it already exists, then it has to be removed at this stage. Most of the systems is likely to have APF+BFD firewalls and has to be removed. So use the following command to detect and remove them if they exist.

sh /usr/local/csf/bin/remove_apf_bfd.sh

I didn't have it pre-installed , so the output of the command in my system looked like the image below:

4 Uninstalling CSF and LFD

If you want to remove CSF completely, then just use the following two commands.

cd /etc/csf
sh uninstall.sh

5 The configuration

CSF is automatically preconfigured for cPanel and DirectAdmin and will work with all the standard ports open. CSF also csf auto-configures your SSH port on installation where it's running on a non-standard port. CSF also auto-whitelists your connected IP address where possible on installation. But however full control can be taken by the admin and csf can be manually configured to suit the needs of the type of server.

CSF is installed in the "/etc/csf" directory and the user requires root privileges even to access the directory. This directory consists of all the files required to configure and run the csf. Firstly, "csf.conf" is the file that helps enabling/disabling and managing every possible use and feature of csf. It handles all the configurations. The directory also contains various files like "csf.syslog" that contains where the log files will be kept, "csf.allow" file that is used to allow IP address through the firewall, and many more.

6 Using CSF to watch IP addresses

the "-w" or the "--watch" option can be used to watch and log packets from a specified source as they traverse the iptables chains. This feature becomes extremely useful when in tracking where that IP address is being dropped or accepted by iptables. Do note that at any time time, only a few IP addresses should be watched and for a short period of time, else the log file gets flooded with these entries. To end the watch you will have to restart csf, as watches do not survive restarts.

The steps to watch are:

  • Go to the config file present in /etc/csf called "csf.conf" this is the config file. Search for "WATCH_MODE" and make the value "1". This enables it.
  • restart the csf and lfd
  • use the following command to watch the ip. Make sure you change the IP shown below to what you want.

    csf -w 11.22.33.44

  • Watch the kernel iptables log for hits from the watched IP address

Once done, disable WATCH_MODE and restart the csf and lfd. The following is a trimmed down example log watch of 192.168.254.4 connecting to port 22:

Firewall: I:INPUT SRC=192.168.254.4 DST=192.168.254.71 PROTO=TCP DPT=22
Firewall: I:LOCALINPUT SRC=192.168.254.4 DST=192.168.254.71 PROTO=TCP DPT=22
Firewall: I:GDENYIN SRC=192.168.254.4 DST=192.168.254.71 PROTO=TCP DPT=22
Firewall: O:GDENYIN SRC=192.168.254.4 DST=192.168.254.71 PROTO=TCP DPT=22
Firewall: I:DSHIELD SRC=192.168.254.4 DST=192.168.254.71 PROTO=TCP DPT=22
Firewall: O:DSHIELD SRC=192.168.254.4 DST=192.168.254.71 PROTO=TCP DPT=22
Firewall: I:SPAMHAUS SRC=192.168.254.4 DST=192.168.254.71 PROTO=TCP DPT=22
Firewall: O:SPAMHAUS SRC=192.168.254.4 DST=192.168.254.71 PROTO=TCP DPT=22
Firewall: O:LOCALINPUT SRC=192.168.254.4 DST=192.168.254.71 PROTO=TCP DPT=22
Firewall: I:INVALID SRC=192.168.254.4 DST=192.168.254.71 PROTO=TCP DPT=22
Firewall: O:INVALID SRC=192.168.254.4 DST=192.168.254.71 PROTO=TCP DPT=22
Firewall: I:LOGACCEPT SRC=192.168.254.4 DST=192.168.254.71 PROTO=TCP DPT=22

7 Allowing Allow/deny filters on IP addresses

csf can be used to add advanced allow and deny filters using the following

tcp/udp|in/out|s/d=port|s/d=ip|u=uid

The break down of this format is shown below:

tcp/udp  : EITHER tcp OR udp OR icmp protocol
in/out   : EITHER incoming OR outgoing connections
s/d=port : EITHER source OR destination port number (or ICMP type)
           (use a _ for a port range, e.g. 2000_3000)
s/d=ip   : EITHER source OR destination IP address
u/g=UID  : EITHER UID or GID of source packet, implies outgoing  
           connections, s/d=IP value is ignored

7.1 Allowing IP addresses

IP addresses can be excluded individually or in ranges by adding them in the csf.allow file. here lets assume that we want to add the range 2.3.*.*, we represent this is CIDR notation and also we want to allow the IP 192.168.3.215 . to do so, use the following command:

nano /etc/csf/csf.allow

add the following lines ( if the IP you want is different, change it.)

2.3.0.0/16
192.168.3.215

7.2 Blocking IP addresses

Similar to allowing , IPs or ranges of IP can be blocked. But do remember that IPs present in the csf.allow file will be allowed even if it is present in the blocking file. To block IPs use the same process as for allowing it but instead of the "csf.allow" file, enter the IPs in the "csf.deny" file present in the /etc/csf directory.

7.3 Ignoring IP addresses

It is also possible to ignore IP addresses. That is the IPs provided in the file "csf.ignore" will bypass the firewall but can only be blocked if listed in csf.deny file.

8 Conclusion

Above are just some of the many features that CSF provides. It is very useful and provides a very good security to servers against attacks and also provides full control to the configuration so that a server can run smoothly. To learn and use many other features of the CSF, refer to the readme.txt file in the extracted folder, that gives a brief description of all the features and how an admin can use it.

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Comments

From: JohnP

CSF is NOT a firewall. Iptables is the firewall on most Linux systems. CSF is an interface to iptables, extremely useful interface, but definitely NOT a firewall. Please correct.

From: root

 protects you from DDOS or jellyfish robots

 

if you could consider security using iptables