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Swabber is responsible for managing the actual banning of IP addresses identified by either Banjax or Learn2ban.

It uses a ZMQ-based pub-sub mechanism for communication and bans the given IP addresses via IPTables to block identified malicious IP addresses at the TCP level. Swabber has been implemented with several configurable parameters for greater flexibility:

  • bantime – describes the amount of time that malicious IP addresses should be banned from further HTTP requests.
  • bindstrings – provides the list of addresses on which to listen for bans.
  • interface – legitimate ban source to interact with
  • backend – Swabber supports the following methods of banning:
    • raw
      • IPTables commands
    • python-iptables library
    • host.deny


The vast majority of documentation and detail is available on Github. Swabber can be installed by running pip install swabber


Swabber requirements can be installed via pip. The minimum supported version of python is 2.6. The code uses the “as” keyword and other conventions that are only present in 2.6 and onwards.


Swabber uses a pub/sub based system via ZMQ, whereby Swabber itself will try to connect to (ie subscribe to) a port (usually on localhost) where something will publish a ban by starting to listen (publishing) on the same port.

Swabber takes a ban as an IP address. If the IP address hasn’t been banned, it will be banned. If it is currently banned, the ban will be extended for the predefined ban time. This is defined in the configuration file swabber.yaml, this time defaults to two minutes.

Manual Execution

You can use the init script to run swabber as a daemon as normal:

/etc/init.d/swabberd start

Or if you want to observe more debug info:

swabberd -v