sshblack under macOS Sierra

When you run a computer that is SSH-enabled and open to access from the internet, you should use safe passwords (or even better: private key authentication) and a restrictive sshd.conf. But even with that, the barrage of malicious connection attempts can cause performance issues.

I have been using sshblack for many years on my Mac to battle that issue: when an IP address makes multiple failed attempts to login, it gets banned for a while. The popular fail2ban does that for Linux systems, but it doesn’t work on Mac OS X/macOS.

sshblack always needed some hand-holding with new OS releases, but with Sierra there was an entirely new challenge: there are no log files for sshd anymore! In previous versions, sshblack would look in /var/log/system.log for failed login attempts. The file still exists, but most logging in Sierra uses Apple’s new Unified Logging and Tracing System. That means the only way to access logging for sshd is either Console.app or the log CLI command. Using log with its stream parameter to get real-time logging data incurs a huge performance penalty, so the only way to go seems to be log show. So instead of tailing a log file, the script now has this definition:

my ($LOG) = ‚/usr/bin/log show –style syslog –last 1m |‘;

I added a sleep 60 statement to the loop and removed the code meant to deal with log rotation. Seems to work fine.

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