System administration command. Configure netfilter filtering rules for kernels 2.4 and later. Rules for iptables consist of some matching criteria and a target, a result to be applied if the packet matches the criteria. The rules are organized into chains. You can use these rules to build a firewall, masquerade your local area network, or just reject certain kinds of network connections.
There are three built-in tables for iptables: one for network filtering (filter), one for Network Address Translation (nat), and the last for specialized packet alterations (mangle). Firewall rules are organized into chains, ordered checklists of rules that the kernel works through looking for matches. The filter table has three built-in chains: INPUT, OUTPUT, and FORWARD. The INPUT and OUTPUT chains handle packets originating from or destined for the host system. The FORWARD chain handles packets just passing through the host system. The nat table also has three built-in chains: PREROUTING, POSTROUTING, and OUTPUT. mangle has only two chains: PREROUTING and OUTPUT.
netfilter checks packets entering the system. After applying any PREROUTING rules, it passes them to the INPUT chain, or to the FORWARD chain if the packet is just passing through. Upon leaving, the system packets are passed to the OUTPUT chain and then on to any POSTROUTING rules. Each of these chains has a default target (a policy) in case no match is found. User-defined chains can also ...