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When deciding whether to allow or deny a connection, wrappers first checks each line of /etc/hosts.allow and then (if no match was found) checks each line of /etc/hosts.deny.

Is there a way to configure it to check those files in the opposite order?

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You can use the allow/deny option:

sshd : : deny
sshd : : allow

in hosts.allow the syntax for both of the files are identical.

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