Exim Configuration

Exim is a quite powerful MTA allowing you to customize alot of things, e.g. by defining ACLs (Access Control Lists) with various conditions. Please see the Specification of the Exim Mail Transfer Agent for more on configuring Exim.

Remove Client IP from Received

The Received header may include the user's IP and perhaps even ISP's hostname by default. This causes privacy issues. Be reminded that the IP address alone is considered personal data according to the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH-Urteil VI ZR 135/13). Though other providers such as T-Online and Gmail are observed to act in violation to this basic principle, let's be better than them and enhance the users' privacy.

To achieve this, add the following to exim's main configuration:

received_header_text = Received: \
  from ${if def:authenticated_id {$primary_hostname ([]) (helo=example.com)\n\t}}\
  ${if eq{$authenticated_id}{} {$sender_rcvhost (helo=$sender_helo_name)\n\t}}\
  by $primary_hostname \
  ${if def:received_protocol {with $received_protocol}} \
  ${if def:tls_in_cipher {($tls_in_cipher)\n\t}}\
  (Exim $version_number)\n\t\
  ${if def:sender_address \
  {(envelope-from <$sender_address>)\n\t}}\
  id $message_exim_id\
  ${if def:received_for {\n\tfor $received_for}}

Add Custom Headers

In case you want to add a custom header when sending mails, you may do so in the transports section, e.g. under remote_smtp. To do so, just add the header using headers_add = <headerName>: <headerValue>.

Enable Suffix Aliasing

For Incoming Mails

By enabling suffix-aliasing, one can set e.g. mail+whatever@example.com as an alias of mail@example.com. That way, all mails to mail+somethingelse@example.com will be received in the same inbox as mail@example.com. As you noticed, it does not matter what the plus sign is followed by. To enable this, go through the following steps:

  1. Log into Vesta CP as admin
  2. Go to "server" and select the configuration of exim
  3. Go to the section "ROUTERS CONFIGURATION" and find localuser preferences

There, add the following lines:

  driver = accept
  transport = local_delivery
  condition = ${lookup{$local_part}lsearch{/etc/exim4/domains/$domain/passwd}{true}{false}}
  local_part_suffix = +* : #* : =* : &*

This will result in enabling suffixes prepended by either of the following characters: +, #, =, and &. You may also solely enable suffix aliases prepended by a + sign as that is the common and conventional way.

For Outgoing Mails

We may want suffix aliases not only to be used for incoming mails, but our users to be able to send mails with them. To achieve that, we can define under acl_smtp_mail what shall be checked for outgoing mails from users authorized via SMTP. That is where you may add the following entry:

    # accept if FROM address is a suffix alias of authenticated address
    condition = ${if match {$sender_address} {(${local_part:$authenticated_id}\+.*@${domain:$authenticated_id})}}
    logwrite = AUTH OK - FROM address $sender_address is a suffix alias of authenticated user

Allow Authenticated Users to Send from Aliases

We are saving aliases and forwardings in the file \etc\exim4\domains\<domain>\aliases. The file looks like this:


It is notable that aliases always have a single target while a forwarding has at least one target but may have multiple comma-separated targets. That means that a forwarding will be saved just the same way an alias is saved in our file. So, allowing aliases will also allow sending mails from a forwarding address from the target domain, if there is exactly one target. Here another example on that:


In the sense of the above shown example, that'd mean that target@example.com could send an email with the FROM address forward@example.org. That's a case which is exclusively with forwardings possible as aliases are always within the same domain.

As described for outgoing mails with the suffix alias, we can define under acl_smtp_mail what shall be checked for outgoing mails from users authorized via SMTP. There, you may add the following entry:

# accept if FROM address is an alias for the authenticated user $authenticated_id.
    condition = ${if and{\
                   { exists{/etc/exim4/domains/${sender_address_domain}/aliases} }\
                   { eq{$authenticated_id} {${lookup{$sender_address}lsearch{/etc/exim4/domains/${sender_address_domain}/aliases}}} }\
    logwrite = AUTH OK - FROM address is an alias or unique forwarding target of the authenticated user $authenticated_id

Please note that this option may require that both accounts are hosted on the same server. The domains however may be managed by different users. That is not a problem, as only permitted users are able to set the aliases and forwardings.

Deny Outgoing Mails from Unknown Domains

Caution: The below suggestion may also affect incoming mails. See the second rule below to avoid that. These deny rules should be processed after processing accept rules except the default accept without any further conditions, if present.

Just as described above, you may add the following entry under acl_smtp_mail:

    ! condition = ${if exists{/etc/exim4/domains/${sender_address_domain}}}
    message = You are not authorized to send emails with FROM domain $sender_address_domain.
    logwrite = AUTH ERROR - authenticated user $authenticated_id set disallowed FROM domain $sender_address_domain

What this entry does is quite simple: It checks whether the FROM domain has been added as a mail domain to vesta and denies outgoing mails if that is not the case.

To ensure that this does not affect incoming mails, you should prepend the following rule:

    condition = ${if eq{}{$authenticated_id}}

This entry aims to accept non-smtp mails (e.g. using sendmail) and incoming mails will without further checking them within this ACL. Thus, any rules below this should solely affect outgoing mails from authenticated SMTP users.

Allow Only Authorized User in FROM

Caution: The below suggestion may also affect incoming mails. You may also want to see the above notes on this.

We may want to make sure an authorized user may only send emails with the identity of itself. With this rule, it will be impossible for an authorized user to use another FROM address. To achieve that, add the following entry similarly to above:

    ! condition = ${if eq{$authenticated_id} {$sender_address}}
    message = You are not authorized to send emails for $sender_address.
    logwrite = AUTH ERROR - authenticated user $authenticated_id is not permitted to set FROM address $sender_address

Please see the addition to the previous rule. If you have already prepended it once, you won't have to add it again for each rule, though.

Blacklist Specific Adresses

In our case, there were specific senders that regularly sent spam messages. We decided to block any incoming mails entirely from them instead of deleting them. This can be done either by utilizing filter rules or simply solving the matter at its root: rejecting any incoming mails from those addresses by the MTA.

To achieve that, we are utilizing a blacklist file in the following syntax:


Similarly to above, we can use an entry in the ACL looking into the file. As the above methods work fine, we may go for the non-standard way of adding the rule in the acl_smtp_mail, though acl_check_spammers might be the more appropriate place.

    condition = ${if and{\
                   { exists{/etc/exim4/blacklist} }\
                   { eq {block} {${lookup{$sender_address}lsearch{/etc/exim4/blacklist}}} }\
    message = Rejected by the recipient server.
    logwrite = Rejected - FROM address $sender_address has been blacklisted.

Note that the address won't be blacklisted if the value does not equal to "block". That may be useful if you wish to only temporarily unblacklist an address as you can change the value slightly to achieve that instead of deleting the entry entirely.