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iprepd-nginx module

iprepd-nginx is an openresty module for integrating with iprepd.

You can use the example configuration in this repo for a standalone proxy or install using opm and integrate it yourself.

Note: If nginx is behind a load balancer, make sure to use something like ngx_http_realip_module.

What exactly does iprepd-nginx do?

By using the iprepd client in iprepd-nginx, you can configure nginx to check the reputation of an incoming client IP within iprepd. With this reputation, iprepd-nginx will attach up to three HTTP headers on the request that is then forwarded to your application and can reject requests that are below the configured threshold.

These three headers are:

Header Values Description
X-Foxsec-IP-Reputation int (0-100) Reputation score returned by iprepd
X-Foxsec-IP-Reputation-Below-Threshold boolean ('true'/'false') Whether the reputation is below the configured threshold
X-Foxsec-Block boolean ('true'/'false') High-level whether the request should be blocked (subject to change on what this means)

As well, iprepd-nginx is designed to fail open and prefer performance to accuracy. The preference of performance to accuracy can be changed a bit as an operator, but only to a certain extent (discussed further below).

(Mozilla-specific) Architecture Diagram

Architecture Diagram


Install using opm

opm get mozilla-services/iprepd-nginx

Operators Guide


  • iprepd, preferably near your iprepd-nginx servers (e.g. within the same region in AWS or GCP)
  • A mechanism for updating iprepd. At Mozilla, this is done by feeding logs from your load balancer, application server, and potentially other locations into our fraud detection pipeline.
  • (optional) A mechanism for collecting statsd metrics.

Note on Performance

A core requirement for iprepd-nginx is that it will add no more than 10ms of latency to requests. Of the mechanisms in place to accomplish this, as an operator there are a few you should be aware of:

Heavy use of caching of responses from iprepd

By default, iprepd-nginx will cache all non-error responses from iprepd for 30 seconds. It is a good idea to cache errors in production, which is done by enabling cache_errors (discussed further below). As well, you may want to lengthen the cache ttl.

Strict timeouts to iprepd

By default, iprepd-nginx’s request to iprepd will timeout after 10ms. This should not be increased in production, and may be worth reducing if the network design can support it.

Configuration of the client

threshold parameter

The threshold value in the client is the numerical value inbetween 0 and 100 where clients will be blocked if their IP's reputation in iprepd is below this value.

What you will want this value to be set to will be highly contextual to your application and environment, with considerations of what kind of violations exist, how likely a client is to activate these violations, how often a client will retry, etc.

A decent value to start at is 50, but you will want to make sure this is tested along side the implemented iprepd violations for your environment.

Audit parameters

The audit values in the client allow configuration of recording blocked requests to the log for security auditing purposes. The audit message includes the request body if small enough to be buffered in memory or the name of the body file if it had to be written to disk. This is dependent on the nginx setting client_body_buffer_size.

audit_blocked_requests enables auditing, by default it is disabled.

audit_include_headers includes the request headers in the audit message. By default, it is disabled. When enabled, Authorization and Proxy-Authorization header values are removed.

audit_uri_list is a table of uris that should be audited. This is mandatory when auditing is enabled. Uri's can be either a simple string or a Lua pattern. For example, audit_uri_list = {"test", "/test/%d/somethingelse"} would allow cause requests to /test/1/somethingelse as well as /test to be recorded.


-- Parameters within options:
--  Required parameters:
--    api_key - An active API key for authenticating to iprepd
--    threshold - The reputation threshold, where IP's with a reputation below this number will
--                be blocked. There is no default for this, as it will be application specific,
--                but as described above 50 is a good starting place.
--  Optional parameters:
--    url - The base URL to iprepd (defaults to "http://localhost:8080/")
--    timeout - The timeout for making requests to iprepd in milliseconds (defaults to 10)
--    cache_ttl - The iprepd response cache ttl in seconds (defaults to 60)
--    cache_buffer_count - Max number of entries allowed in the cache. (defaults to 5000)
--    cache_errors - Enables (1) or disables (0) caching errors. Caching errors is a good
--                   idea in production, as it can reduce the average additional latency
--                   caused by this module if anything goes wrong with the underlying
--                   infrastructure. (defaults to disabled)
--    cache_errors_ttl - The iprepd response cache ttl for error responses (not 200 or 404) in seconds (defaults to 10)
--    statsd_host - Host of statsd collector. Setting this will enable statsd metrics collection
--    statsd_port - Port of statsd collector. (defaults to 8125)
--    statsd_max_buffer_count - Max number of metrics in buffer before metrics should be submitted
--                              to statsd (defaults to 100)
--    statsd_flush_timer - Interval for attempting to flush the stats in seconds. (defaults to 5)
--    blocking_mode - Enables (1) or disables (0) blocking within nginx by returning a
--                    403. (defaults to disabled)
--    verbose - Enables (1) or disables (0) verbose logging. Messages are logged with a
--              severity of "ERROR" so that nginx log levels do not need to be changed. (defaults
--              to disabled)
--    whitelist - List of whitelisted IP's and IP CIDR's. (defaults to empty)
-- audit_blocked_requests - records the body and optionally headers of requests that are being blocked within nginx (defaults disabled, if enabled the uris to audit must be given)
-- audit_include_headers - if audit_blocked_requests is enabled, also record the headers (defaults disabled)
-- audit_uri_list - a list of endpoints that will be audited if audit_blocked_requests is enabled (defaults to empty)
client = require("resty.iprepd").new({
  api_key = os.getenv("IPREPD_API_KEY"),
  threshold = 50,
  url = "",
  timeout = 10,
  cache_ttl = 30,
  cache_buffer_count = 1000,
  cache_errors = 1,
  cache_errors_ttl = 10,
  statsd_host = "",
  statsd_port = 8125,
  statsd_max_buffer_count = 100,
  statsd_flush_timer = 10,
  blocking_mode = 0,
  verbose = 0,
  whitelist = ",,",
  audit_blocked_requests = 0,
  audit_include_headers = 0,
  audit_uri_list = "/uri1,/uri2",

Metrics (statsd)

Metrics that are collected

name type description
iprepd.status.below_threshold count The reputation for the client ip is below the configured threshold.
iprepd.status.rejected count The request was blocked (won’t be sent if blocking_mode is disabled).
iprepd.status.accepted count The request was accepted. The reputation can still be below the threshold if blocking_mode is disabled.
iprepd.get_reputation count Request to iprepd
iprepd.cache_hit count Got reputation from internal cache
iprepd.err.timeout count Request to iprepd timed out
iprepd.err.500 count Got a 500 response from iprepd
iprepd.err.401 count Got a 401 response from iprepd, usually means the API key in use is invalid or being sent incorrectly by nginx.
iprepd.err.dns_timeout count DNS resolution of the iprepd URL's domain name timed out. Make sure to check nginx's resolver_timeout setting
iprepd.err.* count Got an error while sending a request to iprepd. This could be other 4xx or 5xx status codes for example.

Setting up custom metrics

You can use client.statsd (where client = require("resty.iprepd").new({...})) to submit your own custom metrics. Do note that there is no prefix, so it will act as any other statsd client.

Available statsd functions
client = require("resty.iprepd").new({...})

client.statsd.count(name, value)
client.statsd.incr(name) # Increments a count by 1
client.statsd.time(name, value)
client.statsd.set(name, value)
Example within nginx config
init_by_lua_block {
  client = require("resty.iprepd").new({
    url = os.getenv("IPREPD_URL"),
    api_key = os.getenv("IPREPD_API_KEY"),
    statsd_host = os.getenv("STATSD_HOST"),

init_worker_by_lua_block {
  # async flushing of metrics

server {

  location / {

    access_by_lua_block {

    log_by_lua_block {
      # This conditional is not required, but can be helpful to not cause problems
      # if you want to temporarily disable statsd. This will evaluate to false if
      # `statsd_host` is not set.
      if client.statsd then
        # Here is our custom metric
        client.statsd.set("iprepd.ips_seen", ngx.var.remote_addr)

Common Gotchas

  • Make sure iprepd-nginx is seeing the real client IP. You will usually need to use something like ngx_http_realip_module, and confirm that it is configured correctly.

Running locally

Create a .env file in this repo with the needed environment variables (documentation below).

Then run:

$ make build
$ make run_dev

Then you will be able to hit this proxy with: curl http://localhost:80

Environment Variables for Dev


Quotations in env vars matter with nginx. Don't use them if you are using --env-file in Docker.

# required
backend=http://<>               # URL to proxy to
IPREPD_URL=http://<>            # iprepd url
IPREPD_API_KEY="api-key"        # iprepd api key
IPREPD_REPUTATION_THRESHOLD=50  # iprepd reputation threshold, block all IP's with a reputation below the threshold

# optional