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This is an OpenBSD program that listens on a divert socket and performs real time blacklist (RBL) checks for the source IP address on any packets that arrive. Based on the result, the IP is added to a rbl-spammers or rbl-clean table in pf. When combined with pass or block rules using those tables, this enables RBL protection for a mail server.

The daemon uses privilege separation to separate the DNS lookup function from the pf table editing function. Improvements would be to pledge() both processes, and to re-exec one of the processes after fork() in order to re-randomize memory layout. It would also be useful to take parameters on the command line instead of compiling them into the binary. These enhancements may arrive in a later version.

deamon startup

Install the included divert_rbl.rc script as /etc/rc.d/divert_rbl. Enable it as usual in /etc/rc.conf.local, then start the deamon. It listens on port 2525 by default.

pf rules

Assuming that your mail server is behind NAT, the following pf rules on your gateway will pass packets destined for port 25 to the divert_rbl daemon, which will add the source IP to the rbl-spammers or rbl-clean pf tables, depending on what your RBL said. Subsequent packets from that host will be dropped or passed. Note that $ext_if and $host_mail is your internet facing network interface and the internal IP address of your mail server.

table <rbl-spammers> persist
table <rbl-clean> persist
block in log quick on $ext_if proto tcp from <rbl-spammers> to ($ext_if) port {25}
pass  in on $ext_if proto tcp from any to ($ext_if) port 25 divert-packet port 2525 no state
pass  in log on $ext_if proto tcp from <rbl-clean> to ($ext_if) port {25} rdr-to $host_mail

Note that the first packet from a new host will always be dropped. There is code in here to rewrite the destination IP address and forward it out to the mail host if it passed the RBL, but this gets a bit tricky because the state entries in pf won't be set up right and the reply traffic gets dropped. This is not a big deal in practice, because the sender will retransmit the initial SYN packet anyway, which will go through if the sender is on the rbl-clean list. The practical consequence of this is a short delay (~3s) setting up the initial TCP connection the first time a particular host tries to contact your server.


You will need to periodically expire old entries in rbl-spammers and rbl-clean. You can do this with the following commands:

# expire clean entries after a day
pfctl -t rbl-clean    -T expire 86400
# expire spammers after a week
pfctl -t rbl-spammers -T expire 604800


This code comes with no warranty, may not work for you, or may not do what you want. If you find this code useful I'd love to hear about it. If you make modifications that you think would be useful I am happy to take pull requests.


A RBL daemon for OpenBSD






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