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Plesk 12: Installing and Configuring ModSecurity

Difficulty: Intermediate

Prerequisites

  • Plesk 12 admin login

Overview

Parallels Plesk 12 features complete integration of the ModSecurity, the Open Source Web Application Firewall for the Apache web server. This integration provides an easy to configure interface as well as a default set of rules which can prevent security exploits, malicious attacks and malformed requests to your websites.

Note: This feature is available on all Plesk 12 Editions as part of the "Core Security" feature.

Installation

  1. Login to Plesk.
  2. On the left hand side, select Tools and Settings:
    Plesk 12 - Server Management - Tools and Settings
  3. Click on Updates and Upgrades on the right hand side:
    Plesk 12 - Updates and Upgrades
  4. This will open a new window.
  5. This may also ask for the root password. If required, enter the root password for the server:
    Plesk 12 Plesk Installer Root Password
  6. Click on "Add and Remove Product Components":
    Plesk 12 - Add / Remove Components
  7. Under "Plesk hosting features", select "ModSecurity Web Application Firewall for Apache":
    Plesk 12 - ModSecurity Installer Option
  8. Click Continue down the bottom to install.
  9. Once the installation is complete, you should see a confirmation that the installation has successfully completed. You can now close this window.

Configuration

  1. Click on Tools and Settings, then select "Web Application Firewall (ModSecurity)" under Security:
    Plesk 12 - Security - ModSecurity
  2. Here is where you can select three different modes for ModSecurity:
    Plesk 12 - Mod Security Mode
    For this support article, we're going to use "Detection Only" so that it doesn't interfere with working sites. Once you're confident that the rules are working well, you can change the setting to "On" to actively block bad requests.

    Conetix recommends thoroughly testing the rules for at least 2 weeks before actively blocking requests.

  3. Next, select the rule set you'd like to use. By default, this is the "Atomic Basic ModSecurity Rule Set" which is bundled with Plesk:
    Plesk 12 - ModSecurity Ruleset selection
  4. Enable "Update rule sets" and set this to weekly:
    Plesk 12 - Update rulesets
  5. Under "Configuration", you have three options for the rule sets. The options available are Fast, Tradeoff and Thorough:
    Plesk 12 - ModSecurity - Predefined values
    Each level requires more server resources (CPU and memory) as the level of security increases. Conetix suggests testing the effectiveness of "Fast" before using any high setting so as not to affect the performance of the websites on the server.
  6. Click OK to apply the settings. This will restart Apache and load the new ModSecurity settings.
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