Help! SSH attack on Ubuntu 14.04.2 LTS – use sshdfilter with ufw

If you’ve got a *Nix machine on the public Internet, you will experience this at one time or another. If you run sshd on its’ known port 22, some script kiddie out there will attack it. With that, you’ll see that you’ll have a bunch of connections that probably and hopefully will never succeed. I saw these messages in my /var/log/auth.log:

Nov 15 06:44:26 chunli sshd[20634]: Failed password for root from port 41751 ssh2
Nov 15 06:44:26 chunli sshd[20636]: Failed password for root from port 41921 ssh2
Nov 15 06:44:26 chunli sshd[20638]: Failed password for root from port 42948 ssh2
Nov 15 06:44:26 chunli sshd[20546]: message repeated 2 times: [ Failed password for root from port 27586 ssh2]

I’ve experienced this before and to alleviate this problem, I used sshdfilter in the past. I know that there are others out there like sshblack that can do blacklisting of attackers or one of the easiest ways to alleviate this problem is just to run ‘sudo ufw limit ssh’. This is a way to block them from coming back for a while.

To get started, first stop SSH:

sudo initctl stop ssh

Then move /etc/init/ssh.conf out. We’ll start SSH with sshdfilter instead.

You’ll get a message in the auth.log here:
auth.log:Nov 16 19:54:36 chunli sshd[1150]: Missing privilege separation directory: /var/run/sshd

Because of this, we’ll just add a line in the /etc/init.d/sshdfilter file like this:

start() {
 echo -n $"Starting sshdfilter: "
 export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/sbin
 mkdir /var/run/sshd
 return $RETVAL

In /etc/sshdfilterrc, I changed the chain from:

#chain=’SSHD’ to


Under the “Add a block rule” section, I changed some iptables commands to ufw commands. You can see the comments ones here:

#firewalladd='iptables -A $chain -p tcp -s $ip --dport 22 -j DROP'
#firewalladd='iptables -A $chain -p tcp -s $ip --dport 22 -j DROP'
firewalladd='ufw insert 1 reject proto tcp from $ip to any port 22'
# Delete a block rule:
firewalldel='ufw delete reject proto tcp from $ip to any port 22'
#firewalldel='iptables -D $chain -p tcp -s $ip --dport 22 -j DROP'

That’s about it! With that, my machine started to grow a big list of IP addresses to block from failed logins.


SSH without a password using keys troubleshooting – use RSA instead?

I used a procedure from this:

Basically, you just run ssh-keygen to generate a public key and put it on the server’s ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file and that’s about it. The issue I can into was that the server did not accept DSA keys, but accepted RSA keys.

If you suspect that you’re running into the same problem, you can add the “-v” argument to your ssh command and confirm. You should see something like this:
debug1: Skipping ssh-dss key /Users/altonyu/.ssh/id_dsa – not in PubkeyAcceptedKeyTypes

If that’s the case, try using rsa keys. You can generate the RSA key by running:

ssh-keygen -t rsa

Copy the key over to the server’s authorized_keys file and you should get in immediately!