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CompTIA Linux+ XK0-005 - 2.1 - Linux Hardening: Configuring the Host Firewall

In a Linux environment, configuring the host firewall is an essential security practice. The host firewall acts as a barrier between your system and the network, controlling inbound and outbound network traffic based on predefined rules. This guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to configure the host firewall in a Linux environment using three popular firewall management tools: iptables, nftables, and firewalld. By understanding and implementing these tools, you can enhance the security of your system and protect it from unauthorized access and potential threats.

Understanding the Host Firewall

The host firewall is a critical component of the system's network security. It allows you to filter and control network traffic by defining rules that determine which connections are allowed or denied. In a Linux environment, there are multiple firewall management tools available, each with its own syntax and configuration files. Let's explore the three main tools:

  • iptables: iptables is a traditional and widely-used firewall management tool in Linux. It operates at the network packet level and uses a set of chains and rules to control traffic. The configuration is stored in the kernel space.
  • nftables: nftables is a modern and flexible firewall management tool that aims to replace iptables. It provides improved performance and a simplified syntax compared to iptables. The configuration is stored in the kernel space.
  • firewalld: firewalld is a dynamic firewall management tool that provides a higher-level abstraction and simplifies the configuration process. It utilizes iptables or nftables under the hood and offers zone-based configuration with predefined services and ports.

Configuring the Host Firewall

Follow these steps to configure the host firewall using iptables, nftables, or firewalld:

  1. Choose a Firewall Management Tool: Decide which firewall management tool you want to use based on your needs and preferences. If you prefer a traditional approach with fine-grained control, choose iptables. For a modern and simplified experience, opt for nftables. If you prefer a higher-level abstraction and easier configuration, go with firewalld.

  2. Define Firewall Policies: Determine your firewall policies, including the types of traffic you want to allow or deny. Consider factors such as the network services your system provides and the desired level of access from external sources.

  3. Create Firewall Rules: Use the appropriate commands and syntax for your chosen firewall management tool to create rules that enforce your defined policies. For iptables, use commands like iptables -A to append rules to the appropriate chains. For nftables, use commands like nft add rule to add rules to tables. For firewalld, use commands like firewall-cmd --add-service=<service> to add services to zones.

  4. Test Firewall Rules: After creating the rules, test their effectiveness by attempting network connections to your system. Ensure that the rules allow or block traffic as intended. Make adjustments as needed.

  5. Persisting Firewall Rules: To ensure your firewall rules are applied at system boot and persist across reboots, it's necessary to configure your chosen firewall management tool to save the rules automatically. For iptables, you can use the iptables-save command to save the current rules to a file, and then load them at boot using a script or systemd service. For nftables, you can use the nft list ruleset > /etc/nftables.conf command to save the current rules to the configuration file, which will be loaded at boot. For firewalld, you need to use the firewall-cmd --permanent flag along with the appropriate commands to make the rules persistent. For example, you can use firewall-cmd --permanent --add-service=<service> to add a service to a zone and make it persist across reboots.


Configuring the host firewall using iptables, nftables, or firewalld is an essential security practice in a Linux environment. By defining and enforcing firewall rules, you can control network traffic and protect your system from unauthorized access. Choose the appropriate firewall management tool based on your requirements, and ensure you understand the syntax and configuration files specific to each tool.

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