mod_security is enabled when ClamAV malware scanning is enabled. This can be checked and toggled using the system.virus-scanner Scope.

# If false, malware scanning is disabled
cpcmd scope:get system.virus-scanner
# Enable malware scanning
cpcmd scope:set system.virus-scanner clamav
# Likewise, to disable it
cpcmd scope:set system.virus-scanner false

# Testing

An EICAR test (opens new window) file may be used to evaluate whether mod_security is setup correctly.


It may be necessary to disable anti-virus software briefly to download the test file. EICAR is a universal test for anti-virus software. If AV is working correctly, then EICAR will be deleted/quarantined once it's downloaded onto your machine.

Create a test HTML file named "test-upload.html", which accepts a form upload. Place this file in /var/www/html:

cat > /var/www/html/test-upload.html <<- EOF
<! DOCTYPE html>
<form action="upload.php" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data">
<input type="file" name="file" id="fileToUpload">
<input type="submit" value="Upload Test" name="submit">

Next access https://<SERVER IP>/test-upload.html and upload the EICAR text file. If mod_security is working as intended, it will return a "406 Not Acceptable" status code. Alternatively you may test it via cURL too:

echo 'K5B!C%@NC[4\CMK54(C^)7PP)7}$RVPNE-FGNAQNEQ-NAGVIVEHF-GRFG-SVYR!$U+U*' | tr '[A-Za-z]' '[N-ZA-Mn-za-m]' | curl -F 'file=@-' http://<SERVER IP>/test-upload.html

EICAR characters are transliterated using ROT-13 to avoid detection by anti-virus software, otherwise submission is identical to desktop submission.

EICAR test result

Additional logging evidence will be present in /var/log/messages and /var/log/httpd.

Feb 12 14:48:56 testing clamd[6668]: fd[12]: {HEX}EICAR.TEST.3.UNOFFICIAL(44d88612fea8a8f36de82e1278abb02f:68) FOUND
# via modsec_audit.log - - [12/Feb/2020:14:53:25 --0500] "POST /test-upload.html HTTP/1.1" 406 249 "-" "-" XkRXtW8X20xyKcESfznVdwAAAE4 "-" /20200212/20200212-1453/20200212-145325-XkRXtW8X20xyKcESfznVdwAAAE4 0 2276 md5:175e0cfd277ec488f0c1b401e06b68c0 

# via modsec_debug.log
[12/Feb/2020:14:53:25 --0500] [][rid#7f00d80e11c0][/test-upload.html][1] Access denied with code 406 (phase 2). Virus Detected [file "/etc/httpd/modsecurity.d/activated_rules/clamav.conf"] [line "5"] [id "1010101"] [msg "Malicious File Attachment"] [severity "ALERT"]

# Lua testing

Testing from a HTML upload applet is sufficient for most situations; however, additional testing may be done to isolate the Lua/ClamAV segment. Apache <=> mod_security <=> Lua <=> ClamAV. Create a m.log() method for interoperability.

Call lua passing off the runAV.lua script to it:

lua  -i /etc/httpd/modsecurity.d/runAV.lua

Then create a stub logger to evaluate the file /eicar with an EICAR signature:

m = {}
function m:log(log)

Confirmation will be similar, reporting the virus found.

Lua EICAR test

# Whitelisting

Signatures may be whitelisted using virus-scanner.signature-whitelist Scope. Each signature is normalized into a format understood by ClamAV. For example to whitelist {HEX}EICAR.TEST.3.UNOFFICIAL(44d88612fea8a8f36de82e1278abb02f:68) from the above example:

cpcmd scope:set virus-scanner.signature-whitelist {HEX}EICAR.TEST.3.UNOFFICIAL(44d88612fea8a8f36de82e1278abb02f:68)

Internally the signature will be saved as {HEX}EICAR.TEST.3 to /var/lib/clamav/custom-whitelist.ign2. Whitelisted signatures can be retrieved using the complementary method, get.

cpcmd scope:get virus-scanner.signature-whitelist

# Remote anti-virus

When multiple servers exist in a cluster, it's beneficial to designate one server ClamAV duties. Such an arrangement is easy to accomplish.

DoS risks

Use cpcmd rampart:whitelist CLIENT.IP.ADD.RESS to whitelist each client IP on the ClamAV scanner. There is no protection against malicious usage resulting in information disclosure or denial of service attacks. There is absolutely zero authentication. Firewall authorization is the only safety.

You have been warned. See also ClamAV's official bulletin (opens new window).

Assuming is the ClamAV scanner and is a participating node using to scan malware:

On host,

cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper clamav_clamd_tcp_addr
upcp -sb clamav/setup
# Allow communication from to bypass firewall
cpcmd rampart:whitelist

On client,

cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper clamav_clamd_tcp_addr
# Setting true implicitly sets clamav_clamd_local_socket to null
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper clamav_client_only true
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper clamav_enabled true
upcp -sb clamav/setup

Then perform an EICAR test on client to confirm communication,

echo 'K5B!C%@NC[4\CMK54(C^)7PP)7}$RVPNE-FGNAQNEQ-NAGVIVEHF-GRFG-SVYR!$U+U*' | tr '[A-Za-z]' '[N-ZA-Mn-za-m]' > /eicar
clamdscan /eicar
rm -f /eicar

# Troubleshooting

# 406 Not Acceptable on POST

ClamAV has determined the file to contain potential malware. Run the file through (opens new window) first to confirm the file does not contain malware and this is a false positive. The signature may be whitelisted following the "Whitelisting" section above.

# 413 Request Entity Too Large on POST

When sending a large payload (> 256 KB) as a POST, mod_security will reject the content with a 413 Request Entity Too Large response. This occurs from a combination of the request size and form encoding type ("enctype"). When submitting files, the form enctype should be set as "multipart/form-data". A form default encoding type is "application/x-www-form-urlencoded" and unsuitable for sending large files (RFC 1867 (opens new window) § 3.2). Moreover, specifying "multipart/form-data" allows a file to suggest its MIME disposition and character encoding (RFC 2388 (opens new window) § 5.6).

mod_security sets a POST limit of 256 KB. This may be raised using Bootstrapper. Size is in bytes. The following example sets the limit to 4 MB using builtin arithmetic in bash.

cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper modsec_limit_nofiles $((4*1024*1024))
upcp -sb apache/modsecurity

A preferred workaround is to correct the form by specifying enctype="multipart/form-data" for the offending code as this is the correct way to submit large files and binary data.