Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-2016

Abstract

Stories of compromised servers and data theft fill today's news. It isn't difficult for someone who has read an informative blog post to access a system via a misconfigured service, take advantage of a recently exposed vulnerability, or gain control using a stolen password. Any of the many internet services found on a typical Linux server could harbor a vulnerability that grants unauthorized access to the system.

Since it's an impossible task to harden a system at the application level against every possible threat, firewalls provide security by limiting access to a system. Firewalls filter incoming packets based on their IP of origin, their destination port, and their protocol. This way, only a few IP/port/protocol combinations interact with the system, and the rest do not.

Linux firewalls are handled by netfilter, which is a kernel level framework. For over a decade, iptables has provided the userland abstraction layer for netfilter. Iptables subjects packets to a gauntlet of rules where, if the IP/port/protocol combination of the rule matches the packet, the rule is applied causing the packet to be accepted, rejected, or dropped.

Firewalld is a newer userland abstraction layer for netfilter. Unfortunately, its power and flexibility are underappreciated due to a lack of documentation describing multi-zoned configurations. This article provides examples to remedy this situation.

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