SSH GeoBlocker with Fail2Ban

The sshGeoBlocker bash script uses geoiplookup to get the location of an IP address from a MaxMind GeoLite2 database. Combining this script with a fail2ban sshd jail, IP addresses can be blocked after a certain number of unsuccessful connection attempts.

The script can be seen at and downloaded from Codeberg, and was inspired by Axllent.

Installing and Configuring GeoLite2

On Ubuntu, GeoLite2 can be installed with aptitude:

sudo apt install geoip-bin geoip-database geoipupdate

To enable automatic updates, a free GeoLite2 Account is necessary. Once the account is set up, a partially pre-filled configuration file can be downloaded. Save this file in the /etc directory as GeoIP.conf.

Inside the file, the YOUR_LICENSE_KEY_HERE placeholder must be replaced with an actual license key, which can be found on the account License Keys page of the newly created account.

Finally, to activate automatic updates, a simple cronjob can be defined as follows:

0 6 * * 3 /bin/geoipupdate

Note: MaxMind updates its database every Tuesday.

Script Configuration

To configure the script, simply set the following two variables:

# define list of countries that are allowed SSH access (separated by space ; country codes in all caps)

# specify log facility

By default, the script logs to /var/log/auth.log which works well with the standard fail2ban sshd jail.

The Script

# check for valid input
if [ $# -ne 1 ]; then
  # check for valid input
  echo "Usage: $(basename) $0 <ip>" 1>&2

  # return true when run incorrectly, as not to accidentally add strange rules to the firewall
  exit 0

# determine IP version, i.e. IPv4 or IPv6
if [[ "$(echo "$1" | grep ':')" != "" ]] ; then
  # this is an IPv6 address -> add "6" to the command call

# get the country
country=$(/usr/bin/geoiplookup${ipVersion} "$1" | awk -F ": " '{ print $2 }' | awk -F "," '{ print $1 }' | head -n 1)

# if the country is in the list of allowed countries, or if the IP address was not found, return ALLOW, else return DENY
[[ $country = "IP Address not found" || $allowedCountries =~ $country ]] && response="ALLOW" || response="DENY"

if [ $response = "ALLOW" ] ; then
  # return 0, as in, no errors
  exit 0
  # the country was not in the list of allowed countries -> log that a connection was denied and exit with an error
  logger -p ${logFacility} "$response sshd connection from $1 ($country)"

  # and exit with an error message, telling aclexec to block the connection attempt
  exit 1

The entire script is very straight-forward. The geoiplookup command is used to look up the country an IP address originates from, from the GeoLite2 database. The result is awked to simply output the country code in all capital letters. Then, if the country is not in the list of all allowed countries, the script logs a DENY messages and exits with an exit code of 1, which can be used to tell aclexec (see below) to deny the ssh connection attempt.


Before enabling the fail2ban jail, please test if the script works as desired.

Note: The script will not return any visible output to the console, but rather log a DENY or ALLOW message into the log file specified by the logFacility variable.

Server Configuration

On the server, simply deny all sshd access, by changing the /etc/hosts.deny file:

sshd: ALL

Then, using the etc/hosts.allow file, enable the script as follows:

sshd: ALL: aclexec /pathToScript/ %a

This tells the system to check the return code of the ./ script to make a decision whether a connection attempt is allowed or denied.

After a while, log messages of the following form should show up in the desired log file, i.e. /var/log/auth:

Apr  1 16:01:49 bell0server root: DENY sshd connection from (CN)
Apr  1 17:11:29 bell0server root: DENY sshd connection from (US)
Apr  1 19:01:58 bell0server root: DENY sshd connection from (DE)
Apr  1 19:02:26 bell0server root: DENY sshd connection from 2a03:b0c0:2:d0::1002:e001 (NL)


The above log messages are always followed by a system message like this:

Apr  1 19:02:26 bell0server sshd[250966]: refused connect from 2a03:b0c0:2:d0::1002:e001 (2a03:b0c0:2:d0::1002:e001)

The standard sshd filter of fail2ban is already configured to catch those messages:

^refused connect from \S+ \(<HOST>\)

Thus, by simply enabling an sshd jail, connection attempts from non-allowed countries can easily be blocked, for example with the following settings:

enabled = true
filter = sshd
maxretry = 3
bantime = 2678400
findtime = 43200
logpath = /var/log/auth.log

Note: Do not forget to restart the fail2ban-client.


Please do make sure that a ssh connection to the server is still possible before enabling this script for good!