BlockCracking

Lena edited this page Aug 24, 2016 · 27 revisions
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Blocking compromised accounts (outgoing spam) and auth cracking

Nowadays users' passwords often are stolen (with drive-by exploits, Windows malware, phishing) and used for spamming. Spam sent with authentication via your server causes it to be blacklisted without notice and sometimes no appeal. Simple rate limiting authenticated users constrains honest users while still allowing spam to trickle through, your server still ends up in blacklists. Each server needs automatic detection and blocking of compromised accounts (stolen passwords). I amended and implemented (for Exim version 4.67 or higher) Andrew Hearn's idea to check not rate of messages or all recipients, but rate of attempts to send to nonexistent recipient email addresses. Vast majority of spammers never try to validate every recipient address. Spammers harvest strings looking like email addresses from webpages and disks of trojaned Windowses, then sell huge lists of email addresses to each other. These lists contain very much email addresses which don't exist anymore or never existed: Message-Ids, corrupted strings in memory and files. In short, spammers' lists of email addresses are much dirtier than lists honest users send to. Honest users are very unlikely to attempt to send to 100 nonexistent email addresses in one hour. Below I explain in detail (for novices at Exim) what to change in Exim config for automatic blocking of compromised and spammers' accounts, with automatic email notification to sysadmin or your abuse or support staff.

This code also blocks brute force password cracking via SMTP (it's not as important but a little useful).

Replace the paragraph with the line accept authenticated = * with four paragraphs:

  drop  authenticated = *
        set acl_m_user = ${sg{$authenticated_id}{\N[^\w.=@-]\N}{}}
        condition = ${if exists{$spool_directory/blocked_authenticated_users}}
        set acl_m_wasfree = ${if def:acl_c_blocked{$acl_c_spoolfree}\
                      {${lookup{$acl_m_user}lsearch\
                      {$spool_directory/blocked_authenticated_users}}}}
        condition = ${if match{$acl_m_wasfree}{\N^\d+$\N}}
        condition = ${if match{$spool_space}{\N^\d+$\N}}
        condition = ${if <={$spool_space}{${eval:$acl_m_wasfree/2}}}
        log_message = free space on spool disk $spool_space KB - less than \
                      half than it was when the user $acl_m_user was blocked
        message = spool disk too full

  accept authenticated = *
        condition = ${if exists{$spool_directory/blocked_authenticated_users}}
        condition = ${lookup{$acl_m_user}lsearch\
                            {$spool_directory/blocked_authenticated_users}\
                            {1}{$acl_c_blocked}}
        # The variable acl_c_blocked is used because lookup can be cached. 
        control = freeze/no_tell
        control = submission/domain=
        add_header = X-Authenticated-As: $acl_m_user

  accept authenticated = *
        !verify = recipient/defer_ok/callout=10s,defer_ok,use_sender
        ratelimit = WRONG_RCPT_LIMIT / PERIOD / per_rcpt / user-$acl_m_user
        set acl_c_blocked = 1
        set acl_c_spoolfree = $spool_space
        continue = ${run{SHELL -c "echo $acl_m_user:$acl_c_spoolfree \
           >>$spool_directory/blocked_authenticated_users; \
           \N{\N echo Subject: user $acl_m_user blocked; echo; echo because \
           has sent mail to WRONG_RCPT_LIMIT invalid recipients during PERIOD.; \
           \N}\N | $exim_path -f root WARNTO"}}
        control = freeze/no_tell
        control = submission/domain=
        add_header = X-Authenticated-As: $acl_m_user

  accept authenticated = *
        control = submission/domain=

If the line hostlist relay_from_hosts = contains something besides localhost or 127.0.0.1 or this server's IP-address, i.e. your server is a relay for your LAN or users on your company's IP-addresses, then replace the paragraph with the line accept hosts = +relay_from_hosts with four paragraphs:

  drop  hosts = !@[] : +relay_from_hosts
        set acl_m_user = $sender_host_address
                         # or username from RADIUS, then change
                         # iplsearch to lsearch in this and next paragraphs
        condition = ${if exists{$spool_directory/blocked_relay_users}}
        set acl_m_wasfree = ${if def:acl_c_blocked{$acl_c_spoolfree}\
                      {${lookup{$acl_m_user}iplsearch\
                      {$spool_directory/blocked_relay_users}}}}
        condition = ${if match{$acl_m_wasfree}{\N^\d+$\N}}
        condition = ${if match{$spool_space}{\N^\d+$\N}}
        condition = ${if <={$spool_space}{${eval:$acl_m_wasfree/2}}}
        log_message = free space on spool disk $spool_space KB - less than \
                      half than it was when the user $acl_m_user was blocked
        message = spool disk too full

  accept hosts = !@[] : +relay_from_hosts
        condition = ${if exists{$spool_directory/blocked_relay_users}}
        condition = ${lookup{$acl_m_user}iplsearch\
                            {$spool_directory/blocked_relay_users}\
                            {1}{$acl_c_blocked}}  
        control = freeze/no_tell
        control = submission/domain=
        add_header = X-Relayed-From: $acl_m_user

  accept hosts = !@[] : +relay_from_hosts
        !verify = recipient/defer_ok/callout=10s,defer_ok,use_sender
        ratelimit = WRONG_RCPT_LIMIT / PERIOD / per_rcpt / relayuser-$acl_m_user
        set acl_c_blocked = 1
        set acl_c_spoolfree = $spool_space
        continue = ${run{SHELL -c 'echo \\\"$acl_m_userMASKL\\\":$acl_c_spoolfree \
           >>$spool_directory/blocked_relay_users; \
           \N{\N echo Subject: relay user $acl_m_user blocked; echo; echo \
           because has sent mail to WRONG_RCPT_LIMIT invalid recipients during PERIOD.; \
           \N}\N | $exim_path -f root WARNTO'}}
        control = freeze/no_tell
        control = submission/domain=
        add_header = X-Relayed-From: $acl_m_user

  accept hosts = +relay_from_hosts
        control = submission/domain=

Insert into beginning of config:

acl_smtp_connect = acl_check_connect
acl_smtp_helo = acl_check_helo
acl_smtp_auth = acl_check_auth
acl_smtp_mail = acl_check_mail
acl_smtp_quit = acl_check_quit
acl_smtp_notquit = acl_check_notquit
IPNOTIF = echo Subject: blocked $sender_host_address $dnslist_text \
  ${sg{${lookup dnsdb{>, defer_never,ptr=$sender_host_address}}}{\N[^\w.,-]\N}{}}; \
  echo; echo for bruteforce auth cracking attempt.; 
WRONG_RCPT_LIMIT = 100
PERIOD = 1h
WARNTO = abuse@example.com
SHELL = /bin/sh
# these two masks are used only in case of IPv6:
# how many IPv6 addresses you give to your single user:
MASKL = ${if match{$acl_m_user}{:}{/64}}
# how many external IPv6 addresses you treat as one attacker:
MASKW = ${if match{$sender_host_address}{:}{/56}}

In the WARNTO line replace abuse@example.com with your abuse or support or sysadmin email address.

Immediately after the "begin acl" line insert:

acl_check_auth:
  drop  message = authentication is allowed only once per message in order \
                  to slow down bruteforce cracking
        set acl_m_auth = ${eval10:0$acl_m_auth+1}
        condition = ${if >{$acl_m_auth}{2}}
        delay = 22s

  drop  message = blacklisted for bruteforce cracking attempt
        set acl_c_authnomail = ${eval10:0$acl_c_authnomail+1}
        condition = ${if >{$acl_c_authnomail}{4}}
        condition = ${if exists{$spool_directory/blocked_IPs}}
        condition = ${lookup{$sender_host_address}iplsearch\
                            {$spool_directory/blocked_IPs}{0}{1}}
        acl = setdnslisttext
        continue = ${run{SHELL -c 'echo \\\"$sender_host_addressMASKW\\\" \
           >>$spool_directory/blocked_IPs; \
           \N{\N IPNOTIF \N}\N | $exim_path -f root WARNTO'}}

  drop  message = blacklisted for bruteforce cracking attempt
        condition = ${if >{$acl_c_authnomail}{4}}

  accept set acl_c_authhash = ${if match{$smtp_command_argument}\
                  {\N(?i)^(?:plain|login) (.+)$\N}{${nhash_1000:$1}}}

acl_check_quit:
  warn  condition = $authentication_failed
        condition = ${if def:acl_c_authhash}
        ratelimit = 0 / 5m / strict / $sender_host_address-$acl_c_authhash
        set acl_c_hashrate = ${sg{$sender_rate}{[.].*}{}}

  warn  condition = $authentication_failed
        logwrite = :reject: quit after authentication failed: \
                            ${sg{$sender_rcvhost}{\N[\n\t]+\N}{\040}}
        condition = ${if or{\
                            {!def:acl_c_authhash}\
                            {<{$acl_c_hashrate}{2}}\
                           }}
        ratelimit = 7 / 5m / strict / per_conn
        condition = ${if exists{$spool_directory/blocked_IPs}}
        condition = ${lookup{$sender_host_address}iplsearch\
                            {$spool_directory/blocked_IPs}{0}{1}}
        acl = setdnslisttext
        continue = ${run{SHELL -c 'echo \\\"$sender_host_addressMASKW\\\" \
           >>$spool_directory/blocked_IPs; \
           \N{\N IPNOTIF \N}\N | $exim_path -f root WARNTO'}}

acl_check_notquit:
  warn  condition = $authentication_failed
        condition = ${if def:acl_c_authhash}
        ratelimit = 0 / 2h / strict / $sender_host_address-$acl_c_authhash
        set acl_c_hashrate = ${sg{$sender_rate}{[.].*}{}}

  warn  condition = $authentication_failed
        logwrite = :reject: $smtp_notquit_reason after authentication failed: \
                            ${sg{$sender_rcvhost}{\N[\n\t]+\N}{\040}}
        condition = ${if eq{$smtp_notquit_reason}{connection-lost}}
        condition = ${if or{\
                            {!def:acl_c_authhash}\
                            {<{$acl_c_hashrate}{2}}\
                           }}
        ratelimit = 7 / 2h / strict / per_conn
        condition = ${if exists{$spool_directory/blocked_IPs}}
        condition = ${lookup{$sender_host_address}iplsearch\
                            {$spool_directory/blocked_IPs}{0}{1}}
        acl = setdnslisttext
        continue = ${run{SHELL -c 'echo \\\"$sender_host_addressMASKW\\\" \
           >>$spool_directory/blocked_IPs; \
           \N{\N IPNOTIF \N}\N | $exim_path -f root WARNTO'}}

acl_check_mail:
  accept set acl_c_authnomail = 0

acl_check_connect:
  drop  message = $sender_host_address locally blacklisted for a bruteforce \
                  auth (username+password) cracking attempt
        condition = ${if exists{$spool_directory/blocked_IPs}}
        condition = ${lookup{$sender_host_address}iplsearch\
                     {/var/..$spool_directory/blocked_IPs}{1}{0}}
        # Another path to the same file in order to circumvent lookup caching.

  accept

acl_check_helo:
  drop  message = Cutwail/PushDo bot blacklisted
        condition = ${if eq{$sender_helo_name}{ylmf-pc}}
  acl = setdnslisttext
  continue = ${run{SHELL -c 'echo \\\"$sender_host_addressMASKW\\\" \
     >>$spool_directory/blocked_IPs; \
     \N{\N IPNOTIF \N}\N | $exim_path -f root WARNTO'}}
  # if this bot is dropped at helo, it repeats multiple times,
  # but if dropped at connect, it tries only twice

  accept

setdnslisttext:
  accept dnslists = zz.countries.nerd.dk

  accept

hash:
  accept set acl_c_authhash = ${nhash_1000:$acl_arg1}

Each authenticator must contain server_set_id line. After the begin authenticators line if the paragraph with PLAIN contains driver = plaintext then it must contain server_set_id = $auth2, if the paragraph with LOGIN contains driver = plaintext then it must contain server_set_id = $auth1.

If you use Exim version 4.82 or higher and driver = plaintext after begin authenticators then in the paragraph with PLAIN append (without a blank) at the very end of server_condition line: ${acl{hash}{$auth2,$auth3}} and in the paragraph with LOGIN append at the very end of server_condition line: ${acl{hash}{$auth1,$auth2}}. For example:

  server_condition = ${if pam{$auth2:${sg{$auth3}{:}{::}}}}${acl{hash}{$auth2,$auth3}}

When your staff receives a message with Subject like blocked 115.150.81.95 cn, just check that the IP-address is unknown for you (in this example China) - it's who attempted to crack passwords.

When your staff receives a message with Subject like user johndoe@yourisp.com blocked, it means that using this user's password multiple messages were sent through your server, and during last hour 100 of recipient email addresses were rejected (5xx) by recipient MXs. This is very unlikely with honest users, but typical for spammers. You can look in your logs which recipient email addresses were rejected by your Exim:

cd /var/log/exim;
zcat mainlog*.* | fgrep 'Unknown user' | fgrep -v 'sender verify fail' | sed -E -e 's/^.+<.*<//' -e 's/>.+$//' | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr | less

Besides role accounts nonexistent on your domains like webmaster@, sales@, office@, you'll see Message-IDs, pieces of email addresses, pieces glued with random pieces of words. For example, there were 540 attempts to spam a never existing address on my domain x-originating-ipa@lena.kiev.ua. Spammers will try to send through your relay (using passwords stolen from your users) to multiple nonexistent addresses too. When your staff receives notification with Subject: user ... blocked, using exipick command (it's installed with Exim) look at content of messages frozen in the queue sent with the username specified in the notification, for example:

exipick -zi '$h_X-Authenticated-As eq johndoe@yourisp.com' | xargs -n 1 exim -Mvc | less

If you see not spam (very unlikely) then using a text editor delete the line with that username from the file blocked_authenticated_users in Exim spool directory, for example /var/spool/exim/ in FreeBSD (if the file contains only one line which is likely then you can just delete the file instead) and unfreeze detained messages:

exipick -zi '$h_X-Authenticated-As eq johndoe@yourisp.com' | xargs exim -Mt

If you see spam then change the user's password, notify the user and delete the line or file (see previous paragraph). In order for the user to really get it, provide a clause in the user agreement or contract beforehand: if the user's password was used for spam (no matter who spammed - the user or somebody else) then the user pays a fine. Spam frozen in the queue is evidence. When the evidence is not needed anymore, delete the frozen spam:

exipick -zi '$h_X-Authenticated-As eq johndoe@yourisp.com' | xargs exim -Mrm

Similarly with users on LAN or the ISP's IP-ranges (file blocked_relay_users, notifications with Subject like relay user 192.168.12.34 blocked).

How to use this approach to block outgoing spam submitted locally such as from web-server (for web-hosting admins):

After reading the above, a web-hosting admin asked me how to use this approach to block outgoing spam from webhosting accounts - malicious or compromised because a webhosting user installed vulnerable version of soft such as WordPress or Joomla. Web scripts can submit mail either via SMTP to localhost or not via SMTP (via pipe to sendmail binary which calls exim). I was told that PHP's mail() function submits not via SMTP, at least usually. When not via SMTP, instead of the rcpt ACL for each recipient, the not_smtp ACL is executed once per message with possibly several email addresses in $recipients, but each recipient needs to be verified separately - I contrived how:

If not via SMTP, and each webhosting user/client's scripts run under unique userid, and Exim version 4.82 or higher, then (untested):

acl_not_smtp = acl_check_not_smtp
UNLIMITED_USERIDS = root : toor : cron : mailnull : mail : exim : somethingelse
# "mailnull" is Exim user id under FreeBSD, "mail" under some other OSes.
WRONG_RCPT_LIMIT = 100
PERIOD = 1h
WARNTO = abuse@example.com
SHELL = /bin/sh

begin acl
acl_check_not_smtp:
  accept set acl_m_user = $authenticated_id
        condition = ${if inlist{$acl_m_user}{UNLIMITED_USERIDS}}

  discard condition = ${if exists{$spool_directory/blocked_notsmtp_users}}
        set acl_m_wasfree = ${lookup{$acl_m_user}lsearch\
                      {$spool_directory/blocked_notsmtp_users}}
        condition = ${if match{$acl_m_wasfree}{\N^\d+$\N}}
        condition = ${if match{$spool_space}{\N^\d+$\N}}
        condition = ${if <={$spool_space}{${eval:$acl_m_wasfree/2}}}
        log_message = free space on spool disk $spool_space KB - less than \
                      half than it was when the user $acl_m_user was blocked

  accept condition = ${if exists{$spool_directory/blocked_notsmtp_users}}
        condition = ${lookup{$acl_m_user}lsearch\
                    {$spool_directory/blocked_notsmtp_users}{1}{0}}
        control = freeze/no_tell
        add_header = X-Username: $acl_m_user

  accept condition = ${if forany{<, $recipients}\
                                {eq{${acl{recipient}{$item}}}{caught}}}
        continue = ${run{SHELL -c "echo $acl_m_user:$spool_space \
           >>$spool_directory/blocked_notsmtp_users; \
           \N{\N echo Subject: local user $acl_m_user blocked; echo; echo because \
           has sent mail to WRONG_RCPT_LIMIT invalid recipients during PERIOD.; \
           \N}\N | $exim_path -f root WARNTO"}}
        control = freeze/no_tell
        add_header = X-Username: $acl_m_user

  accept

recipient:
  accept condition = ${if match{$acl_arg1}{\N[$/"'`\\]\N}}

  accept !verify = sender=$acl_arg1/defer_ok/callout=10s,defer_ok
        ratelimit = WRONG_RCPT_LIMIT / PERIOD / per_cmd / notsmtpuser-$acl_m_user
        message = caught

  accept

You can either disable mail from webserver via SMTP to localhost or use identd daemon, then username should be in $sender_ident. In case of FreeBSD the ident service is provided by inetd, see man inetd: in /etc/inetd.conf uncomment after Provide internally a real "ident" service, in /etc/rc.conf inetd_enable="YES" and /etc/rc.d/inetd start or restart), in Exim config

rfc1413_hosts = *
rfc1413_query_timeout = 2s

Lena