cPHulk Brute Force Protection v82

Valid for versions 82 through the latest version

Version:

82


Overview

This interface allows you to configure cPHulk, a service that provides protection for your server against brute force attacks. A brute force attack uses an automated system to guess the password of your web server or services.

cPhulk monitors the following web servers and services:

  • cPanel services (Port 2083).

  • WHM services (Port 2087).

  • Mail services (Dovecot® and Exim).

  • The PureFTPd service.

  • Secure Shell (SSH) access.

When cPHulk blocks an IP address or account, it does not identify itself as the source of the block. Instead, the login page displays the following warning message: The login is invalid.

Important:
We strongly recommend that you add your own IP address or addresses to the whitelist to avoid a lockout of the root user account.
Note:
  • cPHulk does not affect public key authentication to the server. If cPHulk locks an account or all accounts out of the server, you may still use public keys, API tokens, and access hashes to authenticate to your server.
  • cPHulk does not consider multiple login attempts that use the same IP address, username, and password as separate failures if they occur within the same six-hour period.
  • To manage cPHulk from the command line, read our cPHulk Management on the Command Line documentation.
  • The Create Support Ticket interface (WHM >> Home >> Support >> Create Support Ticket) automatically adds cPanel Support's IP addresses to cPHulk's whitelist.

Enable cPHulk

To enable cPHulk on the server, set the toggle to On.

Note:
  • By default, your server sets the UseDNS setting to enabled in the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file. The UseDNS setting sends the hostname to the Password Authentication Module (PAM), which ships with cPanel & WHM, for SSH session authentication. cPHulk also requests authentication information from the PAM to determine whether a login attempt could be a brute force attack.
  • If an attacker spoofs a DNS pointer record to impersonate a trusted hostname, the UseDNS setting and cPHulk’s whitelist will conflict. This allows the attacker to perform a brute force attack against the server with unlimited login attempts. Therefore, the system disables the UseDNS setting when you enable cPHulk.

Configure cPHulk

Configuration settings

You can configure the following Configuration Settings options:

Username-based protection

  • Username-based Protection — Whether to enable the username-based protection settings. Set the toggle to On to enable the Username-based Protection setting. Username-based protection tracks login attempts for user accounts. When you disable cPHulk, existing account locks will remain. This setting defaults to On.

    Note:
    You must click Save to implement any change to this setting.

  • Brute Force Protection Period (in minutes) — The number of minutes during which cPHulk measures all login attempts to a specific user’s account. This setting defaults to 5.

    • If several attackers attempt to log in, and they reach the account’s Maximum Failures by Account value within this period, cPHulk classifies this as a brute force attempt.

    • cPHulk blocks logins from any IP addresses to that account, regardless of the attackers’ IP address or addresses.

    • Enter a value between 1 and 1,440 for this setting.

  • _Maximum Failures by Account_— The maximum number of failures that cPHulk allows per account within the Brute Force Protection Period (in minutes) time range. This setting defaults to 15.

    • If a brute force attack meets this number of attempts, the system locks the account, regardless of the attackers’ IP addresses.

    • cPHulk locks the account for one minute for each attempt that you allow with this setting. For example, if you set the Maximum Failures by Account setting to 15, after 15 login attempts cPHulk locks the account for 15 minutes.

    • When you set this value to 0, cPHulk blocks all login attempts (this includes the root account). To avoid this lock-out, you must whitelist your IP address.

  • Apply protection… — Select one of the following options to control how cPHulk applies its protection:

    • Apply protection to local addresses only — Limit username-based protection to trigger only on requests that originate from the local system. This ensures that a user cannot brute force other accounts on the same server. This is the default setting.

    • Apply protection to local and remote addresses — Allow username-based protection to trigger for all requests, regardless of their origin.

  • Allow username protection to lock the “root” user — Whether to apply username-based protection rules to the root user. This checkbox defaults to deselected.

IP Address-based protection

  • IP Address-based Protection — Whether to enable the IP address-related protection settings. Set the toggle to On to enable the IP Address-based Protection setting. IP address-based protection tracks login attempts from specific IP addresses. When you disable cPHulk existing account locks will remain. This setting defaults to On.

    Note:
    You must click Save to implement any change to this setting.

  • IP Address-based Brute Force Protection Period (in minutes) — The number of minutes during which cPHulk measures all login attempts from an attacker’s IP address. cPHulk classifies the following as a brute force attack:

    • Attackers on a specific IP address attempt to log in repeatedly with different usernames or passwords.

    • They reach the Maximum Failures per IP Address value.

      Note:
      • cPHulk measures the attacker’s IP address for the number of minutes that you specify.

        • cPHulk will not measure all IP addresses.

  • Maximum Failures per IP Address — The maximum number of times that a potential attacker at a specific IP address can fail to log in before cPHulk blocks that IP address. When you set this value to 0, cPHulk blocks all login attempts (this includes the root account). To avoid this lock-out, you must whitelist your IP address. This setting defaults to 5.

  • Command to Run When an IP Address Triggers Brute Force Protection — The full path to a command that you want the system to run when an IP address triggers brute force protection. For a list of variables to use in this command, read the Command variables section below.

  • Block IP addresses at the firewall level if they trigger brute force protection —Whether you wish to automatically add IP addresses that trigger brute force protection to the firewall.

    Note:
    • This option writes a new iptables rule and requires iptables version 1.4 or higher to block IP addresses at the IP address-based level.

    • This option does not exist on Virtuozzo.

One-day blocks

  • Maximum Failures per IP Address before the IP Address is Blocked for One Day — The maximum number of times that a potential attacker at a specific IP address can fail to log in before cPHulk blocks that IP address for a one-day period. This option defaults to 30.

  • Command to Run When an IP Address Triggers a One-Day Block — The full path to a command that you want the system to run when the system blocks an IP address for a one-day period. For a list of variables to use in this command, read the Command variables section below.

  • Block IP addresses at the firewall level if they trigger a one-day block — Whether you wish to automatically add IP addresses that trigger a one-day block to the firewall. This option writes a new iptables rule and requires iptables version 1.4 or higher. This checkbox defaults to selected.

    Note:
    • This option writes a new iptables rule and requires iptables version 1.4 or higher to block IP addresses at the IP address-based level.

    • This option does not exist on Virtuozzo.

Login History

  • Duration for Retaining Failed Logins (in minutes) — This setting determines for how long the system displays failed login entries on the History Reports tab. It also determines the number of minutes that the system allows for an attacker to reach the following settings:

    • Maximum Failures by Account

    • Maximum Failures per IP Address

    • Maximum Failures per IP Address before the IP Address is Blocked for One Day

This setting defaults to 360.

Notifications

  • Send a notification upon successful root login when the IP address is not on the whitelist — Whether you wish to receive a notification when the root user successfully logs in from an IP address that does not exist in the whitelist. This checkbox defaults to deselected.

    Note:
    The system only sends a notification once in any 24-hour window for a specific username, service, and IP address combination.

  • Send a notification upon successful root login when the IP address is not on the whitelist, but from a known netblock — Whether you wish to receive a notification when the root user successfully logs in from an IP address that does not exist in the whitelist, but exists in a known netblock. This checkbox defaults to deselected.

  • Send a notification when the system detects a brute force user — Whether you wish to receive a notification when cPHulk detects a brute force attack. This checkbox defaults to selected.

Whitelist Managament

The Whitelist Management options allow you to manage the IP addresses on your server’s whitelist. The whitelist specifies IP addresses for which cPHulk always allows logins to your server.

Important:
We strongly recommend that you add your own IP address to the whitelist to avoid lockouts of the root account. cPHulk displays a warning if the whitelist does not include your IP address. Click Add to Whitelist in the notification to automatically add your IP address.

New Whitelist Records

To add IP addresses to cPHulk’s whitelist, perform the following steps:

  1. Enter one or more IP addresses, one per line, in the New Whitelist Records text box.

    Note:
    Enter IP addresses individually (IPv4 or IPv6) or in CIDR format.

  2. Enter any desired comments in the Comment text box. This comment will display for each of the IP addresses that you entered.

  3. Click Add.

Delete an IP address

To delete a single IP address from the whitelist, click Delete to the right of that IP address.

To delete multiple IP addresses from the whitelist, perform the following steps:

  1. Select the checkboxes to the left of each IP address that you wish to remove, or select the checkbox to the left of the IP Address heading to select them all.

  2. Click the gear icon on the top right of the list and click Delete Selected.

To delete all of the IP addresses from the whitelist, you can also click the gear icon to the top right of the list and click Delete All.

Edit a comment

To modify an IP address’s comment, perform the following steps:

  1. Click Edit to the right of that IP address. A Comment text box will appear to the left of the list.

  2. Enter the new comment in the Comment text box.

  3. Click Update to save your change, or Cancel to reject it.

Blacklist Management

The Blacklist Management options allow you to manage the IP addresses on your server’s blacklist. The blacklist specifies IP addresses for which cPHulk never allows logins to your server.

New Blacklist Records

To add IP addresses to cPHulk’s blacklist, perform the following steps:

  1. Enter one or more IP addresses, one per line, in the New Blacklist Records text box.

    Note:

    Enter IP addresses individually (IPv4 or IPv6) or in CIDR format.

  2. Enter any desired comments in the Comment text box. This comment will display for each of the IP addresses that you entered.

  3. Click Add.

Delete an IP address

To delete a single IP address from the blacklist, click Delete to the right of that IP address.

To delete multiple IP addresses from the blacklist, perform the following steps:

  1. Select the checkboxes to the left of each IP address that you wish to remove, or select the checkbox to the left of the IP Address heading to select them all.

  2. Click the gear icon on the top right of the list and click Delete Selected.

To delete all of the IP addresses from the blacklist, you can also click the gear icon to the top right of the list and click Delete All.

Edit a comment

To modify an IP address’s comment, perform the following steps:

  1. Click Edit to the right of that IP address. A Comment text box will appear to the left of the list.

  2. Enter the new comment in the Comment text box.

  3. Click Update to save your change, or Cancel to reject it.

Countries Management

The Countries Management tab lists countries that you can whitelist, blacklist, or remove from either list. The whitelist specifies the IP addresses that cPHulk always allows to log in to your server. The blacklist specifies the IP addresses that cPHulk never allows to log in to your server.

To add a country’s range of IP addresses to the whitelist or blacklist, select Whitelisted or Blacklisted for the country that you wish to modify. To specify the Whitelisted, Blacklisted, or Not Specified option for multiple countries, perform the following steps:

  1. Select the checkboxes for the countries that you wish to modify.

  2. Click the gear icon at the top of the table.

  3. Click Whitelist Selected Countries, Blacklist Selected Countries, or Set Selected to “Not Specified”.

Note:
We generate an updated geoip database specifically for each new major version of cPanel & WHM. We do not update this database with the nightly maintenance script.

History Reports

The History Reports tab displays information about failed attempts to log in to your server.

Important:
Monitor these lists to find IP addresses and accounts to add to the blacklist.

Note:

cPHulk stores failed login attempts in the cphulkd database.

  • You may wish to access this database in order to identify IP addresses to add to the blacklist.

  • You may wish to clear this database in order to conserve system resources. To clear the database, click Clear Data for All Reports. This action does not clear cPHulk’s whitelist or blacklist.

To view a report, select the report type from the Select a Report menu.

Failed Logins or Blocked Users

The Failed Logins and Blocked Users reports display the following information:

  • User — The user who attempted to log in to your server.

  • IP Address — The IP address from which the user attempted to log in to your server.

Note:
The system populates this text box when it records an IP address. However, it is normal for this text box not to contain any information.
  • Service - The service on your server to which the user attempted to log in. For example:

    • system — cPanel, SSH, or WHM.

    • mail — A POP3 or IMAP email client, or Webmail.

    • ftp — Normal FTP accounts.

Note:
  • The Password Authentication Module (PAM) identifies the lack of @domain in a username to determine whether a user is a cPanel user.

  • Any attempt to log in with a username without @domain displays in cPHulk (or the cphulkd daemon) as system, regardless of which service the user attempted to log in to.

  • Authentication Service — The authentication service of the failed login attempt.

  • Login Time — The time, in 24-hour format, when cPHulk blocked the IP address.

  • Expiration Time — The time, in 24-hour format, when cPHulk will remove the block.

  • Minutes Remaining — The number of minutes that remain in the lockout period.

The system may store these login attempts if, for example, a cPanel user enters the account’s password incorrectly.

Blocked IP Addresses or One-day Blocks

The Blocked IP Addresses and One-day Blocks reports display the following information:

  • IP Address — The IP address from which the user attempted to log in to your server.

  • Comments — Information about the IP address.

    Note:
    The system populates this data when it records an IP address. However, sometimes this column does not to contain any information.

  • Begin Time — The time, in 24-hour format, when cPHulk blocked the IP address.

  • Expiration Time — The time, in 24-hour format, when cPHulk will remove the block.

  • Minutes Remaining — The number of minutes that remain in the lockout period.

  • Actions - Click Remove Block to manually remove the block for this IP address.

Example behavior

The following table contains variables for different hacking scenarios, and cPHulk’s response if you use the default settings:

Address Account Password Attempts Time Range cPHulk’s response
192.168.0.1 username N/A One. N/A No response.
192.168.0.1 username The same password each time. Five or more. 365 minutes. No response.
192.168.0.1 username Different passwords each time. Five to nine. Five minutes. Lock the username account for five minutes.
192.168.0.1 username Different passwords each time. Five or more. 365 minutes. No response.
192.168.0.1 username Different passwords each time. 10 to 29. Five minutes. Block 192.168.0.1 for 15 minutes.
192.168.0.1 username Different passwords each time. 30 or more. Five minutes. Block 192.168.0.1 for two weeks.
Various username N/A Five or more. Five minutes. Lock the username account for five minutes.
Various Various N/A Five or more. Five minutes. No response.
192.168.0.1 Various N/A Five to nine. Five minutes. No response.
192.168.0.1 Various N/A 10 to 29. Five minutes. Block 192.168.0.1 for 15 minutes.
192.168.0.1 Various N/A 30 or more. Five minutes. Block 192.168.0.1 for two weeks.
Note:
The settings that you choose determine cPHulk’s behavior in these scenarios.

Additional Documentation