A Django based web forum I maintain has recently been subjected to frequent DDOS attacks at the application layer. Essentially, it seems to be an HTTP flood hitting the home page, causing the server to execute a large number of internal requests and load various files to create the page. The flood peaks at ~4000 requests per minute (typical throughput being around 500 rpm), bringing down my server in the process.

My webserver is nginx serving as reverse proxy for a gunicorn application server.

I haven't yet utilized gunicorn's security parameters: limit_request_line, limit_request_fields, limit_request_field_size). But I have nginx fail2ban installed, and have two jails in my jail.local to ensure HTTP floods are thwarted:


enabled = true
filter = nginx-postflood
port = http,https
logpath = /var/log/nginx/access.log
findtime = 60
maxretry = 13
bantime = 300


enabled = true
filter = nginx-getflood
port = http,https
logpath = /var/log/nginx/access.log
findtime = 5
maxretry = 6
bantime = 600

This setting has not helped, and I can't figure out why. When I test it, I'm able to block my IP, so it's definitely functional. Perhaps the HTTP flood has randomized IPs.

What tactics can I employ to thwart this kind of application layer DDOS? Being a newbie, I'm still wrapping my head around all this. Expert help is much appreciated!


I ended up handling this at nginx level. I added the following to http { in nginx.conf:

limit_conn_zone $binary_remote_addr zone=conn_limit_per_ip:10m;
limit_req_zone $binary_remote_addr zone=req_limit_per_ip:10m rate=7r/s;
limit_conn_status 403;
limit_req_status 403;

And then the following in the virutal host file's server { block (outside any location { blocks):

limit_conn conn_limit_per_ip 10;
limit_req zone=req_limit_per_ip burst=5 nodelay;

So far, this configuration has been working fine for me.

Note: Works for DoS, but not sure how sturdily it will hold up for DDoS. Hopefully an expert can chime in.

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