NOTE: iptables was replaced by nftables starting in Debian 10 Buster
Iptables provides packet filtering, network address translation (NAT) and other packet mangling.
Two of the most common uses of iptables is to provide firewall support and NAT.
Configuring iptables manually is challenging for the uninitiated. Fortunately, there are many configuration tools (wizards) available to assist, and the most interesting is probably firewalld but others include fwbuilder, bastille, ferm, ufw and opensnitch.
NOTE: the nftables framework is used by default in Debian since Debian 10 Buster.
Starting with Debian 10 Buster, nf_tables is the default backend when using iptables, by means of the iptables-nft layer (i.e, using iptables syntax with the nf_tables kernel subsystem). This also affects ip6tables, arptables and ebtables.
You can switch back and forth between iptables-nft and iptables-legacy by means of update-alternatives (same applies to arptables and ebtables).
The default starting with Debian 10 Buster:
# update-alternatives --set iptables /usr/sbin/iptables-nft # update-alternatives --set ip6tables /usr/sbin/ip6tables-nft # update-alternatives --set arptables /usr/sbin/arptables-nft # update-alternatives --set ebtables /usr/sbin/ebtables-nft
Switching to the legacy version:
# update-alternatives --set iptables /usr/sbin/iptables-legacy # update-alternatives --set ip6tables /usr/sbin/ip6tables-legacy # update-alternatives --set arptables /usr/sbin/arptables-legacy # update-alternatives --set ebtables /usr/sbin/ebtables-legacy
Viewing current configuration
See what rules are already configured. Issue this command:
The output will be similar to this:
Chain INPUT (policy ACCEPT) target prot opt source destination Chain FORWARD (policy ACCEPT) target prot opt source destination Chain OUTPUT (policy ACCEPT) target prot opt source destination
This allows anyone access to anything from anywhere.
Storing iptables rules in a file
Note: there is a package designed to help with this: iptables-persistent
Let's tighten that up a bit by creating a test iptables file:
In this file enter some basic rules:
*filter # Allows all loopback (lo0) traffic and drop all traffic to 127/8 that doesn't use lo0 -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT -A INPUT ! -i lo -d 127.0.0.0/8 -j REJECT # Accepts all established inbound connections -A INPUT -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT # Allows all outbound traffic # You could modify this to only allow certain traffic -A OUTPUT -j ACCEPT # Allows HTTP and HTTPS connections from anywhere (the normal ports for websites) -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 80 -j ACCEPT -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 443 -j ACCEPT # Allows SSH connections # The --dport number is the same as in /etc/ssh/sshd_config -A INPUT -p tcp -m state --state NEW --dport 22 -j ACCEPT # Now you should read up on iptables rules and consider whether ssh access # for everyone is really desired. Most likely you will only allow access from certain IPs. # Allow ping # note that blocking other types of icmp packets is considered a bad idea by some # remove -m icmp --icmp-type 8 from this line to allow all kinds of icmp: # https://security.stackexchange.com/questions/22711 -A INPUT -p icmp -m icmp --icmp-type 8 -j ACCEPT # log iptables denied calls (access via 'dmesg' command) -A INPUT -m limit --limit 5/min -j LOG --log-prefix "iptables denied: " --log-level 7 # Reject all other inbound - default deny unless explicitly allowed policy: -A INPUT -j REJECT -A FORWARD -j REJECT COMMIT
That may look complicated, but look at each section at a time. You will see that it simply shuts all ports except the ones we have allowed - which in this case are ports 80 and 443 (the standard web browser ports) and the SSH port defined earlier.
Activate these new rules:
iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.test.rules
And see the difference:
Now the output tells us that only the ports defined above are open. All the others are closed. If the machine is under remote control, you might wish to establish a new ssh-connection at this point.
Making Changes permanent
As IP-Tables are not persistent, they will be deleted ("flushed") with the next reboot.
Once you are happy with your ruleset, save the new rules to the master iptables file:
iptables-save > /etc/iptables.up.rules
To make sure the iptables rules are started on a reboot we'll create a new file:
Add these lines to it:
#!/bin/sh /sbin/iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.up.rules
The file needs to be executable so change the permissions:
chmod +x /etc/network/if-pre-up.d/iptables
Another way is to use the package iptables-persistent. Rules can be stored something like this:
iptables-save > /etc/iptables/rules.v4 ip6tables-save > /etc/iptables/rules.v6
Note: This HOWTO had been contributed by user Geejay to wiki.openvz.org as a part of installing container howto.
Documentation about the netfilter/iptables:
- Gentle Introductions/Overviews
Firewall and Advanced Routing Under Linux:
Securing Debian: Adding firewall capabilities: