How to block visitors by country with the NGINX GeoIP Module (Debian/Ubuntu)

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In the last time, I see a lot of attack from botnet with IPs from Russia, Ukraine, and China. Several of my projects aren’t concerned about visitors from those countries, so we just block all of them 🙂

How block visitors by Country?

This tutorial explains how to use the GeoIP module with NGINX to block visitors by country. This is made possible by the GeoIP database which maps users’ IP addresses to countries. NGINX must be version 1.9.11 or higher, and installed the HttpGeoipModule to use the GeoIP database.

Actually, it’s pretty easy with the latest Nginx release. I use nginx v1.15.5, which I think the last stable one 🙂

Let’s start. Install GeoIP module and database.

We need install 3 packages using this command

apt-get install nginx-module-geoip geoip-database libgeoip1

Perhaps the last one package(libgeoip1) you already have on your server 🙂

After that we have to include new module and rules to file

/etc/nginx/nginx.conf

Add before http {} block open:

[...]
    # Load GeoIP module
    load_module "modules/ngx_http_geoip_module.so";
[...]

Place next block in the http {} block, before any include lines:

[...]
    # ISO codes here https://dev.maxmind.com/geoip/legacy/codes/iso3166/
    geoip_country /usr/share/GeoIP/GeoIP.dat;
    map $geoip_country_code $allowed_country {
        default yes;
        RU no;
        UA no;
        CN no;
    }
[...]

Now, this actually doesn’t block any country, it just sets the $allowed_country variable. To actually block countries, you must open your vhost configuration and place the following code in the server {} container (this can go inside and also outside any location {} block):

[...]
    if ($allowed_country = no) {
        return 444;
    }
[...]

Definitely, you can have a bit more complicated config structure, but this is just example how it’s work.

We return Error 444 connections closed without response.

A non-standard status code used to instruct nginx to close the connection without sending a response to the client, most commonly used to deny malicious or malformed requests.

This status code is not seen by the client, it only appears in nginx log files. More information on nginx documentation.

Test NGINX configuration file

Run command

nginx -t

You have to see this respond

nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

If your configuration pass the test, restart nginx using systemctl

systemctl restart nginx

Admire your great work 😉 and test how it’s work with NordVPN.

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