Adding an antivirus

Malware remains a scourge. As John is aware of security issues, he decides to add a layer of antivirus directly on the MTA. He installed ClamAV which comes with the clamsmtpd antivirus daemon.

vSMTP security delegation

vSMTP support security delegation via the SMTP protocol (all the logics is defined in .vsl):

{ Incoming msg }  ---> vSMTP server ---> { Delivered msg }
                        |       ^
                        |       |
      clamsmtpd socket  |       |   vSMTP socket
         (delegator)    |       |    (receiver)  |       |
                        |       |
                        v       |
                  { clamsmtpd daemon } <-> { ClamAV }

ClamAV setup

The following example assumes that the clamsmtpd service is loaded and started with the following configuration:

## -- /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

Use the following commands to start clamav:

sudo systemctl start clamsmtp
sudo systemctl start clamav-daemon

The service

Create a smtp service in the file /etc/vsmtp/rules/service.vsl:

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

The receiver’s socket must be enabled in the /etc/vsmtp/vsmtp.toml.

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

The delegate keyword

Create the antivirus passthrough using the delegate keyword.

// -- /etc/vsmtp/rules/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 SMTP and then execute the body of the function.
    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 if it founds a virus
      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.

Once the check email for virus rule is run, vSMTP will send the email to the clamsmtpd service and the rule evaluation is on hold. Once all results are received on the delegation port (10025), evaluation resumes, and the body of this rule is evaluated.