Security / Server Setup

CentOS 7, 8: ban bad IPs and networks with FirewallD

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A couple of days ago, I have stumbled upon a DDoS attack with a server I’ve been managing. Few dozens of IPs have been repeatedly accessing the least cacheable pages causing server strain.

If you were in a similar situation, you ask yourself what can you do?

Let’s block the bad guys with the power of CentOS 7 standard firewall – FirewallD.

Meet FirewallD

Starting from CentOS/RHEL 7, a new firewall is bundled with the operating system – FirewallD.
It is actually a wrapper for the kernel’s net filtering module.

FirewallD allows you to manage the firewall rules using the concept of zones.
If you haven’t already, install it, run it and enable at boot time.

sudo yum -y install firewalld
sudo systemctl start firewalld
sudo systemctl enable firewalld

Investigate the bad guys

Finding the offending IP addresses is relatively easy. Say you are hosting a website powered by NGINX.

While having an unexpected load issue, trying to look up a few IP addresses from access.log usually confirms that the traffic does not have a genuine nature.

To get back to the sane load, see if those offending IP addresses belong to the same network for bulk blocking.

I took a few sample IPs which were hitting the server like crazy and used whois utility to find out network information.

sudo yum -y install whois

Doing the same for all of those IP addresses I could see what was in common for them – the provider. Each whois output had this at the bottom:

descr:          LEASEWEB
origin:         AS60781
remarks:        LeaseWeb
mnt-by:         LEASEWEB-NL-MNT
created:        2014-03-11T14:28:00Z
last-modified:  2015-09-30T23:00:04Z
source:         RIPE

The LeaseWeb, being a VPS provider, has no genuine website users coming from it. So is fine to be blocked.
In all probability, someone rented servers with them and used this for a bad cause.

Quick and simple blocking with fds

The new utility program for FirewallD is fds. You can use it to easily block single IP addresses, entire networks, and even countries.

Install fds by running:

sudo yum -y install
sudo yum -y install fds

Block a single IP:

sudo fds block

Block a network:

sudo fds block

Block a country:

sudo fds block China

To list countries available for blocking, run:

sudo fds list countries

To unblock a country or a network/IP, use unblock:

sudo fds unblock
sudo fds unblock China

To reset all the blocks (remove them), run:

sudo fds reset

The fds utility makes it very easy to block arbitrary networks and even has the ability to integrate with Cloudflare.
You can read more in the official documentation for fds, or simply run man fds.

You can also perform the same blocking using a lower-level firewall-cmd program.
For details, read further.

Understand the drop FirewallD zone

By default, Firewalld comes with several predefined zones. I won’t go into details about them, but rather say that there is a convenient drop zone. Its description:

Any incoming network packets are dropped, there is no reply. Only outgoing network connections are possible.

This is just what we want. Accept no packets from those bad networks, yet still, have the ability to talk to them, e.g. in case, there is a server at LeaseWeb that hosts a useful API endpoint, etc.

FirewallD also supports ipsets for efficient storage of many IP addresses and networks. While we’re going to block only one network in our example, it’s good to learn how to leverage ipsets for the task. This will come in handy when we want to block lots and lots of IP addresses further.

Ban Them!

Initial Setup

Let’s get started and create our ipset which will contain all the IP networks we want to block:

firewall-cmd --permanent --new-ipset=networkblock --type=hash:net --option=maxelem=1000000 --option=family=inet --option=hashsize=4096

Next, we add our ipset to the drop firewall zone:

firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=drop --add-source=ipset:networkblock

Apply all the changes now with:

firewall-cmd --reload

Ban a network

In our case, we want to block the network To ban it from our server, we simply add this network to our networkblock ipset:

firewall-cmd --permanent --ipset=networkblock --add-entry=
firewall-cmd --reload

As you see, the commands are quite readable and you can easily add more bad networks for banning someone else. You will only need two lines. To add another network to ban list:

firewall-cmd --permanent --ipset=networkblock --add-entry=
firewall-cmd --reload

Block SemrushBot

firewall-cmd --permanent --ipset=networkblock --add-entry=
firewall-cmd --reload

If you are very picky or know for sure that the offender is coming from a single IP, just use /32 network (which corresponds to a single IP):

firewall-cmd --permanent --ipset=networkblock --add-entry=
firewall-cmd --reload

Bulk Blocking many IP addresses

If you have a list of IP addresses to block (text file, each IP on a separate line), you can easily import that to your block list:

firewall-cmd --permanent --ipset=networkblock --add-entries-from-file=/path/to/blocklist.txt
firewall-cmd --reload

We now know how to ban entire networks using FirewallD.
If you want to exclude specific IP addresses from blocking, read on how to whitelist IP addresses in FirewallD.

That’s about it for today. Happy Internet wars 🙂

  1. alebal

    Hi, I would add a lot of ip with your code (about 100), I usually use ubuntu, in ubuntu I use this to add a list of ip from a .txt file.
    while read line; do sudo ufw insert 1 deny from $line to any; done < /var/www/html/cidr.txt

    I try this, but it doesn’t do anything…

    while read line; do sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --ipset=networkblock --add-entry=$line done < /var/www/html/ufw.txt

    I'm not so good in CentOS... it's my first installation, am I missing something?

    • Danila Vershinin

      The most efficient would be:

      firewall-cmd --permanent --ipset=networkblock --add-entries-from-file=/path/to/blocklist.txt
      firewall-cmd --reload

      Thanks for asking.

  2. Khurram

    How would you list the ipset address?

    • Danila Vershinin


      firewall-cmd --info-ipset=networkblock


      ipset -L networkblock
  3. Arthur Lee

    What country are supported for block? I saw this command: sudo fds block China I blocked Iraq (but had to type it with a capital “I”. What other countries can I block and which ones are known for high malicious/spam/fraud type activities?

  4. Arthur Lee

    Also – how can I see a list of IPs that I have blocked using FDS? What is the exact command to see this. sudo firewall-cmd –zone=public –list-all doesn’t show anything I blocked with FDS.

    • Danila Vershinin

      All the blocked networks/countries are stored in networkblock* and fds-“country code”-* IP sets.

      So you can see all the IP/networks blocked using standard mechanisms of either FirewallD or regular ipset utility: sudo ipset -L.

      The very recent version of fds allows to do that easier with:

      fds list blocked

      To see what countries are available for blocking, you can run:

      fds list countries

      Since the new version is quite fresh, you might have to yum clean all then yum update fds to upgrade to it.

      Which countries you want to block/not block would vary based on the location of genuine visitors and is a question you might better answer yourself.
      But as a rule of thumb, if you are not doing any business (if that is for E-Commerce) in a country, then it can be blocked to reduce unwanted traffic.

      I’m hoping China is not offended for being used as an example of blocking 🙂

  5. Arthur Lee

    How do you install FDS on RHEL 8.3?

    I keep getting an error:

    Last metadata expiration check: 0:30:39 ago on Sun 21 Mar 2021 06:06:33 PM EDT.
    release-latest.rpm 35 kB/s | 16 kB 00:00
    Problem: conflicting requests
    – nothing provides epel-release needed by getpagespeed-extras-release-10-16.noarch
    (try to add ‘–skip-broken’ to skip uninstallable packages or ‘–nobest’ to use not only best candidate packages)

    • Danila Vershinin

      Install EPEL repository first:

      RHEL=$(rpm -E %{rhel})
      sudo yum install -y$RHEL.noarch.rpm
      sudo yum-config-manager --enable epel
      sudo yum -y install
  6. Arthur Lee

    I’m using your commands:

    sudo yum -y install

    sudo yum -y install fds

  7. Arthur Lee

    Here is the error I am getting after installing:

    [root@mail ~]# sudo fds block
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “/bin/fds”, line 6, in
    from pkg_resources import load_entry_point
    File “/usr/lib/python3.6/site-packages/pkg_resources/”, line 3095, in
    File “/usr/lib/python3.6/site-packages/pkg_resources/”, line 3079, in _call_aside
    f(*args, **kwargs)
    File “/usr/lib/python3.6/site-packages/pkg_resources/”, line 3108, in _initialize_master_working_set
    working_set = WorkingSet._build_master()
    File “/usr/lib/python3.6/site-packages/pkg_resources/”, line 570, in _build_master
    File “/usr/lib/python3.6/site-packages/pkg_resources/”, line 888, in require
    needed = self.resolve(parse_requirements(requirements))
    File “/usr/lib/python3.6/site-packages/pkg_resources/”, line 774, in resolve
    raise DistributionNotFound(req, requirers)
    pkg_resources.DistributionNotFound: The ‘setuptools_scm’ distribution was not found and is required by fds

    I tried rebooting the RHEL 8.3 server and same thing. I tried blocking by country and same thing.

    Can you help me please?

    • Danila Vershinin

      Please update to latest version: yum clean all; yum update fds

      • Arthur Lee

        Thank you! That worked perfectly.

        • Arthur Lee

          Oh – it worked for blocking an IP but not a country:

          [root@mail ~]# fds block china
          china does not look like a correct IP, region, or a country name

          Am I doing something wrong?

  8. Arthur Lee

    Perfect. Thank you so much.

  9. Arthur Lee

    Is there a command to refresh the country list contents that you get from IPDeny? for example after 6 months of running FDS, I would like to update the list of blocked IPs by country. Maybe you have an official document of all the FDS commands with examples I can use? thank you. If I can PayPal you for your help please let me know.

    • Danila Vershinin

      The command is fds cron. The recent fds package you have installed already includes a cron job that runs this command every night, so the IP sets are synced daily and there’s nothing you want/have to do about it. There is documentation with the commands in the official GitHub page for fds. From there you can ask questions, raise issues, and find the donate link.

      • Arthur Lee

        Sent you 5 coffee. Thank you again.

        • Arthur Lee

          Might need a modification for RHEL here. : )

          [root@mail ~]# fds cron
          Traceback (most recent call last):
          File “/usr/bin/fds”, line 11, in
          load_entry_point(‘fds==0.0.16’, ‘console_scripts’, ‘fds’)()
          File “/usr/lib/python3.6/site-packages/fds/”, line 196, in main
          return action_cron()
          File “/usr/lib/python3.6/site-packages/fds/”, line 74, in action_cron
          File “/usr/lib/python3.6/site-packages/fds/”, line 239, in update_ipsets
          self.block_country(country_name, reload=False)
          File “/usr/lib/python3.6/site-packages/fds/”, line 290, in block_country
‘Blocking {} {}’.format(, country.getFlag()))
          AttributeError: ‘str’ object has no attribute ‘name’
          [root@mail ~]#

          • Danila Vershinin

            Thanks. That should be fixed with newer version. Update the same with yum clean all; yum update fds

  10. Brandon Xavier

    I keep getting the following when trying to install: [Errno 14] HTTPS Error 403 – Forbidden

    Any suggestions?

    • Danila Vershinin

      This happens because you weren’t subscribed to the commercial repository. Disable that part if no intention to subscribe (fds can be installed without it):

      sudo yum -y install yum-utils
      sudo yum-config-manager --disable getpagespeed-extras
  11. Gio

    Hi Danila,
    hoping You are doing well :
    question : ERROR: COMMAND_FAILED: ‘/usr/sbin/ipset restore’ failed: ipset v7.1: Error in line 6: Syntax error: ‘’ is invalid as number
    How can I remove this entry ?

    • Danila Vershinin

      I suppose you’re getting this when running firewall-cmd --reload. You can see what entries have been added wrong by checking persistent storage for the ipset at /etc/firewalld/ipsets/networkblock.xml and adding fixes for erroneous data.


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