fail2ban non-root startup

fail2ban runs as root by default. This is unnecessary for its functionality, other than to alter firewall rules. The firewall rules can be safely done, using sudo to enable the required calls. The Debian/Ubuntu init.d file has provisions to start fail2ban as a non-root user, but newer releases use systemd to start and stop the process. This requires a different procedure. This procedure is for my servers which use Shorewall to maintain the firewall. I will document my process for configuring fail2ban in another post. ​First, create the user as a system user with a group(s) required to read the logs. Fail2ban does not need a shell. The home directory is set like similar system users on Ubuntu systems.

This procedure is for my servers which use Shorewall to maintain the firewall. I will document my process for configuring fail2ban in another post.
​First, create the user fail2ban as a system user with the group(s) required to read the logs. Fail2ban does not need a shell. The home directory is set like similar system users on Ubuntu systems.

useradd --system --no-create-home --home-dir /var/lib/fail2ban \
        --groups adm,www-data --shell /usr/sbin/nologin fail2ban

If you are using an init.d script to start fail2ban, set the user in /etc/default/fail2ban. This file is not used by the systemd. If you are using systemd, there is no need to alter the /etc/default/fail2ban file.

If you are using systemd to start fail2ban, create the systemd file /etc/systemd/system/fail2ban.service.d/override.conf. If you are not using Shorewall, omit or edit the [Unit] section.

[Service]
User=fail2ban
Group=adm
Run ExecStartPre with root-permission
PermissionsStartOnly=true
ExecStartPre=/bin/chown -R fail2ban:adm /var/run/fail2ban
[Unit]
Requires=shorewall.service
After=shorewall.service

Create a sudoers file for fail2ban such as /etc/sudoers.d/fail2ban Ensure required operations are included in the Cmnd_Alias definition. This file is configured to use Shorewall and includes all the actions that could be called. If your sudoers configuration does not use an include directory, add the rules to your sudoers file, or enable the use of an include directory.

Sudoer rules for fail2ban
User_Alias FAIL2BAN = fail2ban
Cmnd_Alias FAIL2BAN = /sbin/shorewall allow, /sbin/shorewall6 allow, \
     /sbin/shorewall logdrop, /sbin/shorewall6 logdrop, \
     /sbin/shorewall drop, /sbin/shorewall6 drop, \
     /sbin/shorewall logreject, /sbin/shorewall6 logreject, \
     /sbin/shorewall reject, /sbin/shorewall6 reject \
     /sbin/shorewall blacklist, /sbin/shorewall6 blacklist
FAIL2BAN ALL = NOPASSWD: FAIL2BAN
# EOF

Change the ownership of existing files.

chown -R fail2ban /var/log/fail2ban* /var/lib/fail2ban

Finally, stop and restart fail2ban, check for the fail2ban process, and check your fail2ban log for errors

systemctl stop fail2ban
systemctl start fail2ban
ps -fu fail2ban
tail -60 /var/log/fail2ban.log | less

If you are using logrotate or a similar application to rotate logs, edit the configuration to create new logs owned by the fail2ban user id.

Understanding Covid-19 Statistics

Gathering statistics about communicable diseases is difficult. Covid-19 is no exception. The best available measures are all trailing measures, often with long lag times. I continually see statistics that are poorly or inappropriately presented.

This article was written in the first few months of Covid-19 pandemic. The issues discussed are still occurring They are applicable to many cases.

Continue reading “Understanding Covid-19 Statistics”

init.d for Non-root Processes

When installing third-party applications, they often default to running as root. The server applications for TeamSite/LiveSite are among those. I have applied a simple modification to the init.d scripts that start them as a non-root user. It also allows the scripts to be run by members of an administration group via sudo. This approach applies to other applications.

Continue reading “init.d for Non-root Processes”

Geo blocking with tcpwrappers

I recently had an issue with frequent login attempts against one of my services. These were almost all from countries that should not be accessing my service. To resolve the issue I implemented geo-blocking with TCP Wrappers. This is how I went about geo-blocking connections.

Continue reading “Geo blocking with tcpwrappers”

Tuning Java Garbage Collection

I recently completed a garbage collection exercise on a variety of applications. In all, twenty WebLogic application clusters were tuned. A dozen of these are large busy application clusters. These provide a mix of Web Applications and Web Services.

Tuning garbage collection is a matter of trade-offs. Large heaps take longer to garbage collect. Small heaps need to be collected frequently using more CPU time.

Continue reading “Tuning Java Garbage Collection”

Securing TLS

A StackExchange question on using HAProxy’s capture feature to pass data from TCP mode to HTTP mode prompted me to update my SSL configuration. This was intended to get an A+ rating from SSL Labs by sending non-SNI capable clients to a server with weaker ciphers. This was to enable clients on WinXP/IE8, Java 6, and an old Android version to connect. I found a solution without having to have two sets of ciphers and handling traffic in both the TCP mode and HTTP mode. I then optimized my settings to a minimal list of cipher specifications.

Continue reading “Securing TLS”