33.1 Packet Filtering with iptables
The components netfilter and iptables are responsible for the filtering
and manipulation of network packets as well as for network address
translation (NAT). The filtering criteria and any actions associated with
them are stored in chains, which must be matched one after another by
individual network packets as they arrive. The chains to match are stored
in tables. The iptables command allows you to alter
these tables and rule sets.
The Linux kernel maintains three tables, each for a particular category
of functions of the packet filter:
This table holds the bulk of the filter rules, because it implements
the packet filtering mechanism in the stricter
sense, which determines whether packets are let through
(ACCEPT) or discarded (DROP),
This table defines any changes to the source and target addresses of
packets. Using these functions also allows you to implement
masquerading, which is a special case of NAT used
to link a private network with the Internet.
The rules held in this table make it possible to manipulate values
stored in IP headers (such as the type of service).
These tables contain several predefined chains to match packets:
This chain is applied to incoming packets.
This chain is applied to packets destined for the system's internal
This chain is applied to packets that are only routed through the
This chain is applied to packets originating from the system itself.
This chain is applied to all outgoing packets.
Figure 33-1 illustrates the paths along which a
network packet may travel on a given system. For the sake of simplicity,
the figure lists tables as parts of chains, but in reality these chains
are held within the tables themselves.
In the simplest of all possible cases, an incoming packet destined for
the system itself arrives at the eth0 interface. The
packet is first referred to the PREROUTING chain of
the mangle table then to the
PREROUTING chain of the nat table.
The following step, concerning the routing of the packet, determines that
the actual target of the packet is a process of the system itself. After
passing the INPUT chains of the
mangle and the filter table, the
packet finally reaches its target, provided that the rules of the
filter table are actually matched.
Figure 33-1 iptables: A Packet's Possible Paths