How do I allow certain ips and block all other connection in iptables?

  • As Gilles demonstrates the concept goes like this: Add ACCEPT rules for each specific thing you want to allow whether by source IP or other qualifications, then set the default policy to REJECT.
    – Caleb
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 7:30

4 Answers 4


I wrote a blog post on basic Iptables rules for the desktop user a long time ago and you should probably read it, and its linked article on Stateful firewall design. But pre kernel 2.6.39 (which includes ipset and you may want to use that for whitelisting IP's if you have more than 10 to whitelist (where 10 is arbitrary)).

First handle state's that we know we want to accept or drop, and interfaces.

iptables -P FORWARD DROP # we aren't a router
iptables -A INPUT -m state --state INVALID -j DROP
iptables -A INPUT -m state --state RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -s -j ACCEPT
iptables -P INPUT DROP # Drop everything we don't accept

If you just want to do an allow by IP only, without state

iptables -A INPUT -s -j ACCEPT
iptables -A OUTPUT -d -j ACCEPT
iptables -P INPUT DROP
iptables -P OUTPUT DROP

you are likely to run into problems doing this though, and I suggest using state to make your life easier. For example, not allowing -i lo and -o lo will certainly cause problems for certain applications.

  • 5
    Rather than DROP, you should REJECT unwanted packets, because it makes diagnosing issues a lot easier and prevents timeouts. See Reject IP packets with an ICMP error, or just drop them? Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 1:27
  • I tried both setups and KeePass2 won't start, any idea? Also if I do iptables -F that supposed to clear all rules, can't even ping ubuntu.com Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 18:47
  • 1
    @PawelCioch why would KeePass2 need internet connection anyway?
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 10:38
  • @Alex to store DB file in the remote location, this I want single IP. But I figure out everything, the setup is more complicated that the example here Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 16:30

Here's an (untested!) example that blocks incoming connections only. Connections over the loopback interface, coming from 192.168.3.x, ICMP, or to the SSH port are allowed. All other connections are rejected.

iptables -A INPUT -m state --state RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -p icmp -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -s -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -j REJECT
  • @Gilles to properly use RELATED and ESTABLISHED states, you need to match the initial packet as a NEW state. lo in the above example is excluded from state matching and always allowed.
    – penguin359
    Commented Apr 22, 2011 at 23:54
  • @penguin359: Could you elaborate on why NEW is needed? I'm far from an iptables expert, I partly copied these rules from my home router, which doesn't match on NEW. As far as I understand, all that's left after the first rule is NEW (or UNTRACKED) packets anyway. (If I'm too far off the mark and you can't explain in a comment, post your versions with explanations as an answer and I'll delete mine.) Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 0:07
  • @Gilles I always drop INVALID state before accepting anything... which makes anything not INVALID, RELATED, ESTABLISHED, must be NEW state. But I don't know any reason that everything else must specify NEW. In theory though if you don't handle INVALID, and you don't specify NEW, you could end up accepting INVALID. But once INVALID is handled, it seems to me that checking for NEW state on every rule simply requires more processing for the packet. Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 9:29
  • @Gilles also a default policy of reject is bad, because it sends a reject packet for every packet that is received, this compounds a DOS attack. Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 9:30
  • @xenoterracide: Good point. Should REJECT ever be used? I've asked: Reject IP packets with an ICMP error, or just drop them? Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 14:28

The below rule will allow only your IP and Block all other IPs over port 22 or ssh. Test with a new terminal before disconnecting.

iptables -I INPUT -p tcp ! -s yourIPaddress --dport 22 -j DROP
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    thank you for the succinct answer. How would this change if I want to allow a few IPs and IP ranges. In place of yourIPaddress could I add a few IP addresses and ranges? And if I'm using SSH on a non-standard port like 2888, then the command would change the 22 in your example to 2288? Also, will this also block rsync, sftp, etc to this server from all IPs except the allowed ones?
    – PKHunter
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 11:43
  • 1
    Note that -p tcp is important here because --dport does not work without it. I would also suggest using -j REJECT instead of DROP because REJECT makes the port identical to closed port and DROP makes packets destined to that port black holed. In practice, remote attacker can detect DROP configured ports from actually closed ports. Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 7:55

Here is full working example.
Also makes the applications work (re: my comment about keepass not starting)


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