IPTables Firewall

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Keep in mind that the order of your rules matter. All of these iptables commands use the -A option to append the new rule to the end of a chain. If you want to put it somewhere else in the chain, you can use the -I option which allows you to specify the position of the new rule (or simply place it at the beginning of the chain by not specifying a rule number).


Remember that you can check your current iptables ruleset with sudo iptables -S and sudo iptables -L.


Saving Rules Iptables rules are ephemeral, which means they need to be manually saved for them to persist after a reboot.

Ubuntu On Ubuntu, the easiest way to save iptables rules, so they will survive a reboot, is to use the iptables-persistent package. Install it with apt-get like this:

sudo apt-get install iptables-persistent

During the installation, you will asked if you want to save your current firewall rules.

If you update your firewall rules and want to save the changes, run this command:

sudo netfilter-persistent save

On versions of Ubuntu prior to 16.04, run this command instead:

sudo invoke-rc.d iptables-persistent save

CentOS 6 and Older

On CentOS 6 and older—CentOS 7 uses FirewallD by default—you can use the iptables init script to save your iptables rules:

sudo service iptables save

This will save your current iptables rules to the /etc/sysconfig/iptables file.

Listing and Deleting Rules

If you want to learn how to list and delete iptables rules, check out this tutorial: How To List and Delete Iptables Firewall Rules.

Generally Useful Rules This section includes a variety of iptables commands that will create rules that are generally useful on most servers.

Allow Loopback Connections

The loopback interface, also referred to as lo, is what a computer uses to forward network connections to itself. For example, if you run ping localhost or ping 127.0.0.1, your server will ping itself using the loopback. The loopback interface is also used if you configure your application server to connect to a database server with a "localhost" address. As such, you will want to be sure that your firewall is allowing these connections.

To accept all traffic on your loopback interface, run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -o lo -j ACCEPT

Allow Established and Related Incoming Connections As network traffic generally needs to be two-way—incoming and outgoing—to work properly, it is typical to create a firewall rule that allows established and related incoming traffic, so that the server will allow return traffic to outgoing connections initiated by the server itself. This command will allow that:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT

Allow Established Outgoing Connections You may want to allow outgoing traffic of all established connections, which are typically the response to legitimate incoming connections. This command will allow that:

sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

Internal to External Assuming eth0 is your external network, and eth1 is your internal network, this will allow your internal to access the external:

sudo iptables -A FORWARD -i eth1 -o eth0 -j ACCEPT

Drop Invalid Packets Some network traffic packets get marked as invalid. Sometimes it can be useful to log this type of packet but often it is fine to drop them. Do so with this command:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -m conntrack --ctstate INVALID -j DROP

Block an IP Address To block network connections that originate from a specific IP address, 15.15.15.51 for example, run this command:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -s 15.15.15.51 -j DROP

In this example, -s 15.15.15.51 specifies a source IP address of "15.15.15.51". The source IP address can be specified in any firewall rule, including an allow rule.

If you want to reject the connection instead, which will respond to the connection request with a "connection refused" error, replace "DROP" with "REJECT" like this:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -s 15.15.15.51 -j REJECT

Block Connections to a Network Interface To block connections from a specific IP address, e.g. 15.15.15.51, to a specific network interface, e.g. eth0, use this command:

iptables -A INPUT -i eth0 -s 15.15.15.51 -j DROP

This is the same as the previous example, with the addition of -i eth0. The network interface can be specified in any firewall rule, and is a great way to limit the rule to a particular network.

Service: SSH If you're using a cloud server, you will probably want to allow incoming SSH connections (port 22) so you can connect to and manage your server. This section covers how to configure your firewall with various SSH-related rules.

Allow All Incoming SSH To allow all incoming SSH connections run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --sport 22 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established SSH connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Allow Incoming SSH from Specific IP address or subnet To allow incoming SSH connections from a specific IP address or subnet, specify the source. For example, if you want to allow the entire 15.15.15.0/24 subnet, run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -s 15.15.15.0/24 --dport 22 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --sport 22 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established SSH connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Allow Outgoing SSH If your firewall OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT, and you want to allow outgoing SSH connections—your server initiating an SSH connection to another server—you can run these commands:

sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --sport 22 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

Allow Incoming Rsync from Specific IP Address or Subnet Rsync, which runs on port 873, can be used to transfer files from one computer to another.

To allow incoming rsync connections from a specific IP address or subnet, specify the source IP address and the destination port. For example, if you want to allow the entire 15.15.15.0/24 subnet to be able to rsync to your server, run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -s 15.15.15.0/24 --dport 873 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --sport 873 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established rsync connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Service: Web Server Web servers, such as Apache and Nginx, typically listen for requests on port 80 and 443 for HTTP and HTTPS connections, respectively. If your default policy for incoming traffic is set to drop or deny, you will want to create rules that will allow your server to respond to those requests.

Allow All Incoming HTTP To allow all incoming HTTP (port 80) connections run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 80 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --sport 80 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established HTTP connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Allow All Incoming HTTPS To allow all incoming HTTPS (port 443) connections run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 443 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --sport 443 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established HTTP connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Allow All Incoming HTTP and HTTPS If you want to allow both HTTP and HTTPS traffic, you can use the multiport module to create a rule that allows both ports. To allow all incoming HTTP and HTTPS (port 443) connections run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -m multiport --dports 80,443 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp -m multiport --dports 80,443 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established HTTP and HTTPS connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Service: MySQL MySQL listens for client connections on port 3306. If your MySQL database server is being used by a client on a remote server, you need to be sure to allow that traffic.

Allow MySQL from Specific IP Address or Subnet To allow incoming MySQL connections from a specific IP address or subnet, specify the source. For example, if you want to allow the entire 15.15.15.0/24 subnet, run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -s 15.15.15.0/24 --dport 3306 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --sport 3306 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established MySQL connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Allow MySQL to Specific Network Interface To allow MySQL connections to a specific network interface—say you have a private network interface eth1, for example—use these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -i eth1 -p tcp --dport 3306 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -o eth1 -p tcp --sport 3306 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established MySQL connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Service: PostgreSQL PostgreSQL listens for client connections on port 5432. If your PostgreSQL database server is being used by a client on a remote server, you need to be sure to allow that traffic.

PostgreSQL from Specific IP Address or Subnet To allow incoming PostgreSQL connections from a specific IP address or subnet, specify the source. For example, if you want to allow the entire 15.15.15.0/24 subnet, run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -s 15.15.15.0/24 --dport 5432 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --sport 5432 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established PostgreSQL connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Allow PostgreSQL to Specific Network Interface To allow PostgreSQL connections to a specific network interface—say you have a private network interface eth1, for example—use these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -i eth1 -p tcp --dport 5432 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -o eth1 -p tcp --sport 5432 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established PostgreSQL connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Service: Mail Mail servers, such as Sendmail and Postfix, listen on a variety of ports depending on the protocols being used for mail delivery. If you are running a mail server, determine which protocols you are using and allow the appropriate types of traffic. We will also show you how to create a rule to block outgoing SMTP mail.

Block Outgoing SMTP Mail If your server shouldn't be sending outgoing mail, you may want to block that kind of traffic. To block outgoing SMTP mail, which uses port 25, run this command:

sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --dport 25 -j REJECT

This configures iptables to reject all outgoing traffic on port 25. If you need to reject a different service by its port number, instead of port 25, simply replace it.

Allow All Incoming SMTP To allow your server to respond to SMTP connections, port 25, run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 25 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --sport 25 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established SMTP connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Note: It is common for SMTP servers to use port 587 for outbound mail.

Allow All Incoming IMAP To allow your server to respond to IMAP connections, port 143, run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 143 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --sport 143 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established IMAP connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Allow All Incoming IMAPS To allow your server to respond to IMAPS connections, port 993, run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 993 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --sport 993 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established IMAPS connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Allow All Incoming POP3 To allow your server to respond to POP3 connections, port 110, run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 110 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --sport 110 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT


The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established POP3 connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.

Allow All Incoming POP3S To allow your server to respond to POP3S connections, port 995, run these commands:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 995 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --sport 995 -m conntrack --ctstate ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

The second command, which allows the outgoing traffic of established POP3S connections, is only necessary if the OUTPUT policy is not set to ACCEPT.