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Do you keep getting blocked by our firewalls?

For our first blog post we are writing about about a common issue our customers face.

Firewall blocking issues

One of the most common support issues we encounter is when customers are blocked by our firewalls on our cPanel web hosting and cPanel reseller hosting servers. This causes much frustration for our customers as when this happens it looks like your website and emails are down when actually it is your IP address that is blocked and as such any device (PC, phone, tablet) on the same network will also be blocked. If you have any doubts as to whether your website is up or down when facing these problems you can use this external tool or check your website from a different internet connection (maybe turn off your wifi and check on your mobile data).

Why does this happen?

We use both hardware and software firewalls on all servers. The software firewall tracks failed logins to all customer facing services (cPanel, Webmail, IMAP, POP, SMTP & SSH). This means that if you try to login to any of the above services with an incorrect password more than 10 times before logging in successfully then your public IP address is blocked from accessing that particular server. This means you will not be able to browse to your website or receive emails. This not only affects the computer you were using at the time, but all computers that are on the same internet connection – it is your public IP that is blocked, not your computer.

How do we fix this?

The great news is that it is really simple for you to unblock yourself from the firewall! Simply login to our Customer Portal - during the login process we automatically check your public IP address against our firewall blocks, if your IP is blocked then we automatically unblock you and tell you why you were blocked with an alert!

How do I stop this from happening?

The notification you receive when logging in and you are blocked will look something like this:

As you can see the error here shows that I was blocked because of failed cPanel logins – this is nice and easy to fix, just use the correct cPanel password (if you don’t know yours please login to your customer portal and open a support ticket).

If you are blocked because of failed email logins (POP, IMAP or SMTP) then it’s a little more difficult to fix, the error you are shown does not tell you which email account is using an incorrect password, and most of you will have more than one email account, on more than one device. If this is the case you can either test each email account on each device one by one, or we can narrow things down by searching the server logs and finding which specific email account is causing the problem! Check our tool - What is my IP address and open a support ticket, include the IP address (we have even added a little copy to clipboard tool to make it nice and easy for you) and we can search the server logs.

If you don’t know the password for the email account you are trying to fix, you will need to reset this from inside cPanel – navigate to Customer Portal > Services > Hosing Account > Login to cPanel

PLEASE NOTE as soon as you have changed the password you need to re-enter the new password on all devices that check emails for that mailbox, otherwise you will find you get blocked by the firewall again – this is because any device that tries to connect using the old password which is now incorrect will be causing failed logins from your IP address.

Why do we bother doing this at all if it causes problems?

Simple... Security! While it is frustrating if you are caught out by this security system, it makes it extremely difficult for hackers to try and crack any of our customers email account passwords. If we didn’t use such systems, then hackers would be free to brute force their way into customers email accounts by repeatedly trying different passwords. Our systems prevent these types of attacks as hackers only get a few attempts before being blacklisted by our firewalls!

At Northgate Web the security of our customer data is our number one priority and hopefully this makes any of you that have been caught by our firewalls in the past feel a bit better about why it happened.

That is all for now, if you found this article interesting please share it and thank you for reading.

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