SMTP security delegation

Adding an antivirus

John is aware of security issues. Malware remains a scourge on the internet. So he decides to add a second layer of antivirus.

Therefore, he installed ClamAV which comes with the clamsmtpd antivirus daemon.

vSMTP support security delegation via the SMTP protocol and vsl’s configuration. In the next example, we are going to configure vsmtp to delegate emails to clamsmtpd.

Clamav setup

The following example assumes that you started the clamsmtpd service with the following config:

## -- /etc/clamsmtpd.conf

# The address to send scanned mail to.
# This option is required unless TransparentProxy is enabled
OutAddress: 10025

# Address to listen on (defaults to all local addresses on port 10025)

# Tells clamav to forward the email to vsmtp
# event thought it found a virus. (it drops the email by default)
Action: pass

To start clamav, use the following commands:

$ sudo systemctl start clamsmtp
$ sudo systemctl start clamav-daemon

The service

First off, create a smtp service in vsl like so:

// -- service.vsl
service clamsmtpd smtp = #{
    delegator: #{
        address: "",
        timeout: "60s",
    receiver: "",

In the toml configuration, you need to enable the receiver’s socket.

# -- vsmtp.toml
#      clients             delegation results
addr = ["", ""]


You service is configured. Now, to use it, create the following rule using the delegate keyword.

once the “check email for virus” rule is run, vsmtp will send the email to the clamsmtpd service and rule evaluation will be on hold. Once all results are received on port 10025, evaluation will resume, and the body of this rule will be evaluated.

// -- main.vsl
// You cannot use `import "service" as service;` here because `service` is
// a reserved keyword.
import "service" as svc;

    postq: [
        // a `delegate` directive is like a `rule`, it needs
        // to return a status code. The difference is that it
        // first sends the content of the mail to the service
        // via the smtp protocol and then execute its body.
        delegate svc::clamsmtpd "check email for virus" || {
            // this is executed once the delegation result are received.
            log("debug", "email analyzed.");

            // clamav inserts the "X-Virus-Infected" header
            // once a virus is detected, we juste have to
            // check on that.
            if has_header("X-Virus-Infected") {
            } else {

Since there is no heavy network traffic, John decided to do a post-queue filtering. Compromised emails are quarantined in the virus_q folder.

That’s it

Any service that supports the SMTP protocol can be used to delegate the email processing / security with the delegate directive.