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The lastb command presents you with the history of failed login attempts (stored in /var/log/btmp). The reference file is read/write by root only by default. This can be quite an exhaustive list with lots of bots hammering away at your machine. Sometimes it is more important to see the scale of things, or in this case the volume of failed logins tied to each source IP.
The awk statement determines if the 3rd element is an IP address, and if so increments the running count of failed login attempts associated with it. When done it prints the IP and count.
The sort statement sorts numerically (-n) by column 3 (-k 3), so you can see the most aggressive sources of login attempts. Note that the ':' character is the 2nd column, and that the -n and -k can be combined to -nk.
Please be aware that the btmp file will contain every instance of a failed login unless explicitly rolled over. It should be safe to delete/archive this file after you've processed it.
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