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xt_sslpin - netfilter/xtables module: match SSL/TLS certificate public key (pinning)


iptables -I <chain> .. -m sslpin [!] --pubkey <alg>:<pubkey-hex> [--debug] ..


For an introduction to SSL/TLS certificate pinning, see:

xt_sslpin lets you do certificate validation/pinning at the netfilter level.

xt_sslpin will only validate the public key (with minimal performance impact), and applications are expected to do further certificate chain validation and signature checks (i.e. normal SSL/TLS processing).


iptables -I INPUT -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -p tcp --sport 443 \
    -m sslpin --debug --pubkey rsa:00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 \
    -j DROP


git clone git://
cd xt_sslpin
sudo apt-get install iptables-dev # xtables.h

Build and install:

sudo make install

Verify install:

iptables -m sslpin -h

Usage: See Example and Options sections.


Clean source/build directory:

make clean


sudo make uninstall


Options preceded by an exclamation point negate the comparison: the rule will match if the presented SSL/TLS certificate does NOT have the specified public key.

[!] --pubkey <alg>:<pubkey-hex>

If a "Certificate" message is seen, match if the certificate has the specified public key.

<alg> denotes the expected Public Key Algorithm, and can be one of the following: rsa, dsa, ec.

<pubkey-hex> is the subjectPublicKey as hex bytes, e.g.: 0011223344.

(The --debug option can be used to get the public key for a site/IP.)


Verbose logging.

kernel: [ 154.806189] xt_sslpin 1.0 (SSL/TLS pinning)
kernel: [ 156.976209] xt_sslpin: 1 connection (0 actively monitored)
kernel: [ 156.127355] xt_sslpin: 1 connection (1 actively monitored)
kernel: [ 157.127367] xt_sslpin: sslparser: ServerHello handshake message (len = 85)
kernel: [ 157.127370] xt_sslpin: sslparser: Certificate handshake message (len = 2193)
kernel: [ 157.127373] xt_sslpin: sslparser: cn = ""
kernel: [ 157.127378] xt_sslpin: sslparser: pubkey_alg = { name:"rsa", oid_asn1_hex:[2a864886f...] }
kernel: [ 157.127387] xt_sslpin: sslparser: pubkey = [00000000000000000000000000000000...]
kernel: [ 159.129145] xt_sslpin: sslparser: ServerDone handshake message (len = 0)
kernel: [ 159.285698] xt_sslpin: sslparser: ChangeCipherSpec record
kernel: [ 159.285714] xt_sslpin: rule not matched (cn = "")
kernel: [ 159.344721] xt_sslpin: 1 connection (0 actively monitored)


Per connection, the incoming handshake data is parsed once across all -m sslpin iptables rules; upon receiving the SSL/TLS handshake ChangeCipherSpec message, the parsed certificate is checked by all rules.

After this, the connection is marked as "finished", and xt_sslpin will not do any further checking. (Re-handshaking will not be checked in order to incur minimal overhead, and as the server has already proved its identity).

Up until the ChangeCipherSpec message is received, xt_sslpin will drop out-of-order TCP segments to parse the data linearly without buffering. Conntrack takes care of IP fragment reassembly up-front, but packets can still have non-linear memory layout; see skb_is_nonlinear().

If SYN is received on a time-wait state conn/flow, conntrack will destroy the old cf_conn and create a new cf_conn. Thus, our per-conn state transitions are simply new->open->destroyed (no reopen).


  • ECParameters/namedCurve pinning in addition to current alg+pubkey pinning
  • Optional buffering for reordered TCP segments during handshake (no RTT penalty / overhead)
  • TCP Fast Open (TFO) support
  • Restrict TCP Options / TCP stack passthrough
  • IPv6 support


xt_sslpin is Copyright (C) 2010-2013 fredburger (

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; version 2 of the License.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA.