What are Iptables and How it works as one of the best Firewall

Securing any modern operating system requires the essential step of setting up a firewall. Numerous firewall tools are available in most Linux distributions to configure a firewall, and in this guide, we will focus on the iptables firewall.

Introduction : Iptablets

Iptables is a standard firewall that comes pre-installed in the majority of Linux distributions. It serves as a command-line interface to the netfilter hooks present in the kernel-level network stack of Linux. By examining each packet that traverses the networking interface, iptables matches them against a set of rules to determine the appropriate action.

A strong firewall tool for Linux operating systems is called iptables. By setting up rules and policies, you may manage incoming and outgoing network traffic. You can create rules with iptables to filter and modify packets based on several factors, including source and destination IP addresses, ports, and protocols.

This guide will provide an overview of the functionality of iptables, allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of its operations.

What are Iptables and How it works, the ultimate guide

How iptables Work

1 Packet traversal:

At its core, Iptables operate by examining individual packets as they traverse through a network interface. Each packet is subjected to a series of processing steps based on predefined rules. These rules are organized into chains, which act as pathways for packets to follow within Iptables.

2. Chains:

Iptables consist of several built-in chains, including INPUT, OUTPUT, and FORWARD. Each chain represents a specific stage in the packet’s journey. The INPUT chain deals with packets entering the system, the OUTPUT chain handles outgoing packets, and the FORWARD chain manages packets passing through the system. These chains ensure that packets are directed to the appropriate set of rules for evaluation.

3. Rules:

Rules in Iptables define the matching criteria and actions to be taken when a packet meets those criteria. The criteria can include source and destination IP addresses, port numbers, protocols, and other packet attributes. Each rule has a specific target, indicating the action to be performed when the criteria are met. Examples of the criteria include source/destination IP addresses, port numbers, protocols, etc.

Tables: Iptables group rules into various tables, each of which has a distinct function. the following are typical tables:
Filter table: It is utilized for packet filtering, permitting or prohibiting packets in accordance with set rules.
The NAT (Network Address Translation) table is used to change the source or destination IP addresses of packets during network address translation.
Mangle table: This tool is used to do specialized packet changes, including changing packet headers or designating certain packets for a particular treatment.
The in depth guide to iptables

5. Rule evaluation:

When a packet enters a chain, it undergoes evaluation against the rules in that chain. The packet is compared to the criteria specified in each rule until a match is found. Once a rule matches, the associated action is executed. If no rule matches, a default policy defined for the chain is applied. The default policy can be set to ACCEPT, DROP, or REJECT, depending on the desired behavior.

6. Actions:

Actions determine what happens to a packet when a rule matches. They define the fate of the packet based on the corresponding target specified in the rule. Actions can range from allowing or blocking packets to modifying packet attributes or logging packet information for further analysis.

You can build intricate firewall configurations to safeguard your Linux system, regulate network traffic, and guard against unauthorized access by creating and administering iptables rules.


In the realm of securing computer systems and networks, Iptables play a vital role as a robust and versatile firewall administration tool. By leveraging its packet filtering and manipulation capabilities, network administrators can define rules and policies to protect their Linux-based operating systems. With Iptables, the traversal of packets through various chains, rule evaluation, and the execution of corresponding actions provide a powerful mechanism for network traffic control.

Understanding the inner workings of Iptables allows system administrators to build intricate firewall configurations, safeguarding against unauthorized access and regulating network traffic. By utilizing this formidable tool, the Linux community can fortify their systems and networks, ensuring the integrity and security

It’s time to test it yourself and good luck!

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