[Bug 988] New: manpage: mention that REJECT should be used with care

bugzilla-daemon at netfilter.org bugzilla-daemon at netfilter.org
Tue Dec 2 15:03:25 CET 2014


            Bug ID: 988
           Summary: manpage: mention that REJECT should be used with care
           Product: iptables
           Version: unspecified
          Hardware: x86_64
                OS: All
            Status: NEW
          Severity: enhancement
          Priority: P5
         Component: iptables
          Assignee: netfilter-buglog at lists.netfilter.org
          Reporter: vda.linux at googlemail.com

I've got a user report. They are using the following set of rules:

-m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp --dport 21 -j ACCEPT
...<more open port snipped>...
-j REJECT --reject-with icmp-host-prohibited

and they experience aborted TCP connections. After much investigation,
the root cause was found to be ACKs with invalid checksums
not matching "-m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED", and therefore
falling through to the last rule.

I think that this behavior is in fact correct, so I'll propose to my users
to close it as NOTABUG and fix their rules to drop invalid packets.

Sadly, this behavior is also *not obvious*:
the above rule set looks okay at the first glance.

I propose to amend iptables manpage to help future poor victims of this quirk.
In fact, manpage doesn't mention REJECT target at all, so let's fix that too.

A pseudo-patch follows:

       A  firewall  rule specifies criteria for a packet and a target.  If the
       packet does not match, the next rule in the chain is the  examined;  if
       it does match, then the next rule is specified by the value of the tar‐
       get, which can be the name of a user-defined chain or one of  the  spe‐
-      cial values ACCEPT, DROP, QUEUE or RETURN.
+      cial values ACCEPT, DROP, REJECT, QUEUE or RETURN.

       ACCEPT  means to let the packet through.  DROP means to drop the packet
       on the floor.  QUEUE means to pass the packet to userspace.   (How  the
       packet can be received by a userspace process differs by the particular
       queue handler.  2.4.x and  2.6.x  kernels  up  to  2.6.13  include  the
       ip_queue  queue handler.  Kernels 2.6.14 and later additionally include
       the nfnetlink_queue queue handler.  Packets with a target of QUEUE will
       be  sent  to queue number '0' in this case. Please also see the NFQUEUE
       target as described  later  in  this  man  page.)   RETURN  means  stop
       traversing  this  chain  and  resume  at  the next rule in the previous
       (calling) chain.  If the end of a built-in chain is reached or  a  rule
       in a built-in chain with target RETURN is matched, the target specified
       by the chain policy determines the fate of the packet.

+      REJECT discards the packet just like DROP does, but it also sends back +
     an error message to the host sending the packet that was blocked.
+      Note that overzealous use of this target can break your networking
+      by generating spurious connection aborts when an unexpected packet
+      is seen. It is advisable to REJECT only packets in specific state
+      (for example, "iptables -A INPUT -m state --state NEW -j REJECT"
+      and drop the rest: "iptables -A INPUT -j DROP")
+      and/or drop invalid packets before rejecting the rest
+      ("iptables -A INPUT -m state --state INVALID -j DROP" before a generic
+      "iptables -A INPUT -j REJECT")

-      There are currently three independent tables (which tables are  present
+      There are several independent tables (which tables are  present
       at  any time depends on the kernel configuration options and which mod‐
       ules are present).

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