Daemon-Based Filtering

Daemon-based filtering offers a more advanced architecture over the command-based method with lower cost in I/O and CPU usage. It can provide better error handling than is possible with the command method. If implemented as a resident process, the startup overhead per message is eliminated. A daemon-based content filter can pass email messages back and forth with Postfix using the standard SMTP or LMTP protocol. Such a filter can run as a standalone daemon or it can be started by Postfix if configured to do so in master.cf.

In this configuration, we want the content filter to handle all messages, whether delivered locally (via sendmail) or to the smtpd daemon. You have to configure Postfix in master.cf to use a special smtp client component to deliver the messages to your filter and an additional smtpd daemon to receive messages back from your filter. Figure 14-2 illustrates how a filtered message travels through Postfix to your content filter and back into Postfix for delivery. In this diagram, the filter receives mail via localhost port 10025 from the additional smtp client and submits it back to Postfix via localhost port 10026 to the additional smtpd server component.

Figure 14-2. Mail-filtering daemon


If the filter wants to reject a message, it should reply with an SMTP code of 550 along with the reason for the rejection. Otherwise, it should accept the message and perform its operations before passing it back to Postfix. If your filter rejects a message, Postfix bounces it back to the sender address with the message your filter provides.

14.2.1 Configuration

For the purposes of this discussion, I'll assume that you are running a standalone content filter daemon that listens for incoming messages using SMTP. After processing, it sends the message back to Postfix using SMTP. The basic steps to configure this setup are:

  1. Create a pseudoaccount for your filter.
  2. Install and configure your content filter.
  3. Edit master.cf to add two additional Postfix components.
  4. Edit main.cf to add the content_filter parameter.
  5. Restart Postfix so that it recognizes the changes to its configuration files.

When setting up a daemon-based content filter, make sure it does not use the same hostname that Postfix has set in its myhostname parameter, or the Postfix SMTP client will consider it an error and not deliver the message to your filter. The rest of this section walks you through the details of setting up a daemon-based content filter. Creating a pseudoaccount

As with the simple filtering solution described earlier, you should create a pseudoaccount for your filter. The account shouldn't have access to other resources on your system. If your filter needs to write files, you should create a directory for that purpose. Your filter should be started as the designated user or configured to become that user after starting. Check your filter's configuration options. For this example, I'll assume that you've created a user called filter. Installing a content filter

Your content filter package should provide you with instructions for installation and configuration. In this example, assume that the filter listens on the loopback interface on port 10025. After processing messages, the filter should pass them back to Postfix on port 10026. You should be able to configure your filter accordingly, or if your filter listens and reinjects on a different port, keep that in mind as you follow the example. If possible, test your filter first to make sure that it operates correctly before trying to connect it to Postfix. Configuring additional Postfix components

You may encounter "mail loops back to myself" problems when creating additional SMTP components. One solution is to give the additional component a different value for myhostname.

Edit master.cf to add the new components you need. A second smtp component will be used to send messages to your content filter. (See Section 4.5 in Chapter 4 for more information on editing master.cf.) We'll call this additional smtp entry chkmsg:

chkmsg unix - - n - 10 smtp
 -o myhostname=localhost

Later, when you turn on content filtering in main.cf, you'll tell Postfix to send the message to your filter on port 10025 using this component.

In addition to the extra smtp client, you also need a second smtpd service to receive messages back from the content filter program. The second smtpd instance is configured slightly differently from the normal one because you want Postfix to handle traffic from your filter differently from messages coming from outside. Set options with an entry like the following:

localhost:10026 inet n - n - 10 smtpd
 -o content_filter=
 -o local_recipient_maps=
 -o mynetworks=
 -o smtpd_helo_restrictions=
 -o smtpd_client_restrictions=
 -o smtpd_sender_restrictions=
 -o smtpd_recipient_restrictions=permit_mynetworks,reject

This instance of smtpd is configured to listen on the loopback interface on port 10026. You configure your filter to send the processed messages to this service. There are several options in this example. These override the settings in the main.cf file and are explained below:


The default smtpd instance has content filtering turned on in main.cf. This instance of smtpd should not have the content filter process messages again.


Some lookup maps convert an address when it is received by the external smtpd. When your filter tries to reinject it, Postfix may not recognize the recipient and reject the message. Set this option to blank to make sure the filtered messages are always accepted from your filter.


Since your filter runs on the same system as Postfix, the filter and Postfix can communicate over the local loopback interface, a pseudonetwork device not associated with any real hardware interface. The loopback interface always uses an address of Since 127 is the first byte of its address, it's a class A network that you identify with a /8 network prefix. By setting mynetworks to the loopback network and smtpd_recipient_restrictions to permit only this network, this instance of smtpd accepts connections from your filter only and isn't exposed to any (potentially hostile) traffic from the network.

smtpd_helo_restrictions, smtpd_client_restrictions, smtpd_sender_restrictions

You can turn off any restrictions that were already checked by the original smtpd instance. If you're not already using these restrictions in main.cf, you don't need to turn them off here.


Finally, tell smtpd to accept connections on the loopback interface and reject everything else. Turning on filtering

After you have made the necessary changes to master.cf, you have to configure Postfix to pass all messages it receives to your content filter. Edit the main.cf file to add a line like the following:

content_filter = chkmsg:[]:10025

This parameter tells Postfix to pass messages to the content filter via the chkmsg service that you created in master.cf. You also tell it to send the messages to port 10025, which should match what you have configured your content filter program to use. Be sure to reload Postfix to recognize the changes in its configuration files. Once Postfix is reloaded, it will start passing all messages through your content filter for processing.

14.2.2 Daemon-Based Filter Example

To demonstrate setting up a daemon-based content filter, this section walks through installing Vexira AntiVirus from Central Command. Vexira is a commercial anti-virus product available on the Central Command web page, http://www.centralcommand.com/. Its Vexira AntiVirus for Mail servers product is written to work with Postfix among other MTAs. It is available for Linux, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD platforms. If you are using a different daemon-based anti-virus solution, the configuration should be similar to the procedure presented here:

  1. Install Vexira according to the documentation from Command Central. The rest of this procedure assumes that your configuration files are in /etc per the installation instructions.
  2. Configure Vexira to listen on the local loopback interface on port 10024. Edit /etc/vamailarmor.conf and set the parameter ListenAddress as follows:

    ListenAddress localhost port 10024
  3. Also set the ForwardTo parameter to pass messages back to Postfix over the loopback interface on port 10025:

    ForwardTo SMTP: localhost port 10025
  4. Restart Vexira using the method or scripts installed on your system. See your Vexira documentation.
  5. Edit the Postfix main.cf file to have all messages sent to the Vexira daemon for virus scanning. Edit the content_filter parameter as follows:

    content_filter = smtp:[]:10024
  6. Edit the Postfix master.cf file to add another SMTP daemon to accept messages back from Vexira after virus scanning:

    localhost:10025 inet n - n - 10 smtpd
     -o content_filter=
     -o local_recipient_maps=
     -o mynetworks=
     -o smtpd_helo_restrictions=
     -o smtpd_client_restrictions=
     -o smtpd_sender_restrictions=
     -o smtpd_recipient_restrictions=permit_mynetworks,reject
  7. Reload Postfix so that it recognizes the changes in its configuration files:

    # postfix reload



Postfix Architecture

General Configuration and Administration

Queue Management

Email and DNS

Local Delivery and POP/IMAP

Hosting Multiple Domains

Mail Relaying

Mailing Lists

Blocking Unsolicited Bulk Email

SASL Authentication

Transport Layer Security

Content Filtering

External Databases

Appendix A. Configuration Parameters

Appendix B. Postfix Commands

Appendix C. Compiling and Installing Postfix

Appendix D. Frequently Asked Questions

Postfix(c) The Definitive Guide
Postfix: The Definitive Guide
ISBN: 0596002122
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 130
Authors: Kyle Dent D.

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