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Simple, if it’s not installed already then run the following commands

sudo apt-get install iptables
sudo /etc/init.d/iptables start

The safest and best way of configuring iptables, in my opinion, is to have two files. The first is a temporary/test set that you will save to first, the second is the actual rule set that will be loaded to iptables.


So, first we’ll create an empty temp rules file

sudo touch /etc/iptables.temp.rules

Add some simple rules to it:

# Allows all loopback traffic and drop all traffic to 127/8 that doesn't use lo

-A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT ! -i lo -d -j REJECT

# Accepts all established inbound connections

# Allows all outbound traffic

-A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 22 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 80 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 443 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 25 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 143 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 110 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p icmp -m icmp --icmp-type 8 -j ACCEPT

# Log
-I INPUT 5 -m limit --limit 5/min -j LOG --log-prefix "iptables denied: " --log-level 7

# Reject all other inbound - default deny unless explicitly allowed


Next we apply this rule set to the currently running iptables instance

sudo iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.temp.rules

Check to make sure they loaded correctly

sudo iptables -L

If everything looks OK and ready to go then we simply save, this time to the secondary file that I mentioned earlier

sudo iptables-save > /etc/iptables.up.rules

Network interface configuration

Open up the following file with your favourite editor


Find the following lines:

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

And add this to the end

pre-up iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.up.rules

So that it becomes

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback
    pre-up iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.up.rules

This will restore your custom set of iptables rules when it instantiates the network devices.

The future

When you need to add more rules in the future, simply add them to your iptables.temp.rules set, load them in to iptables as shown, if everything looks good then save to iptables.up.rules

Please note; this is only an extremely basic rule set and will need to be improved upon by you or another sys admin in your team to properly secure your server.


Anarchist. Pessimist. Bipolar. Hacker. Hyperpolyglot. Musician. Ex-(semi-)pro gamer. They/Them.

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