Periodically my server gets hammered so hard by automated comment spam runs against my blogs that the server goes down and I have to annoy my provider to get a power cycle if I don't see it happening and start blocking IP addresses. I spend hours and hours using netstat commands (copy and paste as suggested by other people) to generate lists of IPs and count of connections. Generally I find that it is a Web Hosting company with a lax attitude to this sort of thing and try and block the entire range in IPTables. If I spend long enough my then things calm down for a while. Then the whole cycle starts up again.

What else can I do to stop spammers bringing my server to it's knees every month or so?

My IPTables block list seems huge and I have even imported massive lists all to no avail. I seem to recall that I installed things like MOD_Evasive and Shields Up way back when (can't really remember) but clearly this is no longer working.

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    You have my empathy for sure. I was hit with 100,000+ page views an hour from China a few years ago and it lasted for several months. I was able to block them at the firewall, but the pipe would still fill-up so fast it was ridiculous. I am not an IPTables novice let alone an expert. Can you give us a sample of how you use IPTables and let's see if there is a more efficient way. I cannot help with that, but may be able to help with IP address ranges and other support. – closetnoc Nov 9 '14 at 2:35
  • At this stage anything that reduces the impact of this would be a help. I am not exactly expert with IPTables - were it not for WebMin's UI I would be lost. – Matthew Brown aka Lord Matt Nov 9 '14 at 4:20
  • I use VirtualMin so I get it. I have not dared to get into IPTables, though I did use them a long time ago when I was a web host. If you use sudo iptables -L that should list your rules and you can post it here. If it is long, you may just want to give us a sample. Also list IP addresses and I can generate some .htaccess code for you to block whole IP address blocks- assuming Apache. I do not know how to block using IIS. That will not stop them from coming to your server, but at least Apache can stop them. It is one option, but not a total solution. – closetnoc Nov 9 '14 at 4:30

For small scale things, simple plain DoS attacks, mod-evasive, or limitipconn are both apache modules that would work. I prefer mod-evasive personally, you might want to tighten it's settings after installation. There's good documentation for it here:

For over-eager site crawlers (Bingbot's the worst mainly), you'll need to set a CrawlDelay in your robots.txt. Documented here:

For DDoS attacks that don't overload your network capacity, but do overload your server's ability to process pages, there's the smart solution, and then there's the cheating, mysiteitsdownohshitfixfixfix solution. Both require you to identify something in the inbound requests that is 'wrong', a useragent, string in the URL, etc.

The smart solution is to install fail2ban, write a regex filter for it, and to configure it to filter your access logs. Your regex should catch whatever you've previously identified as 'wrong'. Fail2ban will periodically check your logs against the regex, and ban anyone (for the configured bantime) from accessing your server entire.

The mysiteisdown solution is to do what fail2ban does, but, using bash, a for loop, tail, grep, cut and awk.

What you need to do, is something along the lines of the following:
COMMAND="tail -n 10 /path/to/access_log | grep 'bad'| awk '{print $1}'" for i in $COMMAND; do route add -host $i gw done

Put that into a .sh script, and run it via cron. Update the -n number for how much logs are being added. Ignore duplicate warnings thrown by route. Slightly less heath-robinson styles will include a grep -v, to remove your IP if it gets added accidentally. Also, logging the ips added to route to a logfile, for later perusal, scripting, or dissemination.

Hopefully this helps.


Putting your server behind Cloudflare can help solving your issues (or at least mitigate most of them) easily. Many features are available for free. It will save you a lot of time and pain.

P.S.: I am not affiliated with Cloudflare in any way.

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