netfilter Operation: Part Fourteen (Firewall Builder, conclusion)

Firewall Builder

Adding inbound and outbound NAT rules in Firewall Builder.

As you can probably see, once you have completed the up-front work of defining your objects, adding or modifying rules is simple. Additionally, unlike the other free GUI solutions, Firewall Builder allows you to centrally and securely administer all of your (supported) firewalls from one location.

Notice that the default chains have rules matching the rule you configured in Firewall Builder, with a target of RULE_<RULE_NUMBER>. These additional chains are used to configure the logging. there s also a rule at the beginning of all chains to ACCEPT traffic related to an established session. This is generally desirable but is still configurable. To remote this automatically generated rule, select the firewall in the object tree and click on Firewall Settings in the dialog area. There is a checkbox that is selected by default called “Accept ESTABLISHED and RELATED packets before the first rule.” Although the Firewall Builder policies you’ve configured can handle any basic rules you might need, there are still a few more issues to cover. If you need to NAT with your Linux firewall, configuring it with Firewall Builder is easy. Follow these steps so that your firewall with NAT all the traffic from the internal network to the DHCP address used on the outside interface. This configuration is also known as source.nat because it is the source address that is being changed.

  1. In the Object Tree, select NAT.
  2. Move your mouse to the pane to the right of the Object Tree, right-click and select Insert Rule.
  3. Drag your INTERNAL network object from the object tree to the Original Src column in the new NAT policy.
  4. Drag the external interface on the firewall from the object tree to the “Translated Source” column in the NAT policy.

Now, save, compile and install the new policy. Now traffic originating from the internal network will be NAT-ed to the IP on the external interface. Although this source NAT configuration will allow all your internal users to reach the internet, you will need to use destination NAT if Internet users need to reach an internal server. Because the internal server is using a private IP address (which is not routable on the Internet), you need to translate this destination to an IP address that the external users can reach. To configure packets destined for the firewall’s single public IP address to an inside resource using destination NAT, follow these steps:

  1. In the Object Tree, select NAT.
  2. Right-click on rule number zero of the existing NAT ule and select Add rule at Bottom.
  3. Drag the firewall OUTSIDE interface into the Original Destination column of the new rule.
  4. Drag the appropriate services (HTTP and HTTPS) into the Original Service column of the new rule.
  5. Drag the internal server into the translated destination column of the new rule.

Firewall Builder: Creating a Time Policy

Firewall Builder

Creating a time policy with Firewall Builder.

Another nice feature is being able to create a time policy. In this example, we’ll alter the rules so the internal systems can only surf the web from noon to 1:00 PM:

  1. In the Object Tree, right-click Time, and select New Time Interval.
  2. In the “Name” field, we’ll call this rule LUNCH.
  3. In the two time fields provided, enter a time for the rule to START and a time for the rule to STOP. In this case we will enter 12:00 and 13;00 and leave the date field as zeros. You can check off every day of the week at the below the time fields, so the time interval applies to all days. When done, click Apply.
  4. Drag the LUNCH time interval from the Object Tree to te Time column of rule #1.

Now, rule #1 (which permits outbound web surfing) will only be active from noon to 1:00 PM. The ability to configure the rules to be active based on the time of day is a very powerful feature. If the organization is a strictly 8 AM to 5 PM type of place, you could configure the firewall to disable all access during non-business hours. Alternatively, certain non-business-related protocols could be enabled after the normal business day ends.

External Links:

The official Firewall Builder site

netfilter Operation: Part Thirteen (Firewall Builder, continued)

Firewall Builder

Adding inbound and outbound rules for the web server in Firewall Builder.

In the last article, we discussed the process of setting up a firewall object in Firewall Builder and adding a network to it, as well as adding a web server to the network. This seems like a lot of additional effort; however, the real advantage of an object-oriented approach is seen when it comes time to configure the rules. With all of the appropriate objects in place, let’s define the rules to permit the inbound HTTP traffic.

  1. Create a new rule by either navigating to Rules -> Insert New Rule from the menu at the top of the window, or click on the large plus (+) beneath the top menu.
  2. Allow inbound HTTP to WEB1. Click on WEB1 in the object tree and drag it to the destination cell for rule 0.
  3. Now drag the HTTP and HTTPS service from the object pane to the Service cell in rule 0.
  4. Right-click the big red dot in the Action column and select Accept. This allows the inbound Web traffic to access WEB1.
  5. To allow outbound Internet access. create another rule by either navigating to Rules -> Insert New Rule or by clicking on the big plus (+) beneath the menu.
  6. Drag and drop HTTP and HTTPS from the object tree into the Service column of rule one.
  7. Drag the Network object INTERNAL from the object tree to the Source column of the new rule.
  8. Right-click on the Action column for rule 1 and change the action to ACCEPT.
  9. Although our rules seem simple at the moment, let’s apply them to see show things work. First, save your work by navigating to File -> Save or File -> Save As.
  10. Next, right-click the OFFICE01 Firewall and select Compile.
  11. When the “Select Firewalls for compilation” window comes up, OFFICE01 should be checked. When satisfied with your selection, click Next. When the compilation is complete you should see “Success” in the “Progress” column. After verifying that the compilation was successful, click Finish.

Compiling and Uploading the Firewall Rules

Firewall Builder

Compiling the firewall rules.

The next step is to tell Firewall Builder where to find the SSH executables, because this is how Firewall Builder uploads the configuration to the firewalls. You need to have SSH working on both the firewall and the Firewall Builder console, assuming they are on different systems.

  1. Select Edit -> Preferences from the menu.
  2. Select the Installer tab and click the Browse button.
  3. Navigate to the location of your desired SSH utility and click Open. Note that if you are using Windows for the Firewall Builder host, you cannot select PUTTY.EXE; you must use the command-line PuTTY program PLINK.EXE. In Linux, you can leave the default setting (ssh).
  4. After selecting the SSH executable, click OK.
  5. Right-click the OFFICE01 firewall in the object tree, and select Install.
  6. Select the firewalls you wish to install, and click Next.
  7. Enter the username and password for the SSH connection.
  8. All other fields are optional; however, it is recommended that you check “Store a copy of the fwb on the firewall.” When satisfied with your choices, click Ok.

After the upload completes, you will get a status of “Success”. Checking your firewall (iptables -L) shows you the new rules that are listed.

One point that should be made is that you have to be careful when configuring the rules. It is always a good idea to creat the rules to permit administrative access before any others. This is because as soon as you configure the default policies to DROP, your SSH connection will no longer be permitted unless you have it added to the access list. And if you forget to do this, you could find that you no longer have remote access to your firewall after applying the policy. If that happens, you won’t even be able to remotely connect to update the policy and change the ACLs.

External Links:

The official Firewall Builder site

netfilter Operation: Part Twelve (Firewall Builder continued)

Firewall Builder

Firewall Builder on startup.

NOTE: After I posted this article, I found out it’s possible to add objects/networks/hosts/etc. by right-clicking items on the object tree under the Linux version of Firewall Builder. This article has been amended accordingly.

In the previous article, I introduced Firewall Builder, including some notes on installation under Windows and Linux. In this article, I will step through the process of adding a firewall object and configuring it.

Firewall Builder: Creating a Firewall Object

In this example, I installed Firewall Builder under Linux Mint. Initially, there are three main options in the main dialog area: “Create New Firewall“, “Import Existing Configuration“, and “Watch ‘Getting Started’ Tutorial“. click on “Create New Firewall“, which will open the New Firewall dialog box.

Firewall Builder

The New Firewall dialog box.

In the New Firewall dialog box, enter the name for the new firewall (in this case OFFICE01). For the firewall software, select iptables from the dropdown box. For the OS, choose Linux 2.4/2.6 and click Next. The next window allows you to configure the interfaces on the firewall. You can do it manually, or if the firewall is running SNMP, you can discover them via SNMP. Here, we select Configure interfaces manually and click Next. This will bring up the manual configuration window. Enter the relevant information for each network interface. The name must correspond to the actual interface name (which is the same as if you had entered ifconfig on the Linux host), such as eth0. The Label is a human friendly name for easy reference such as OUTSIDE. When you are done entering the information for a given interface click Add. When you have entered the information for all interfaces (typically at least an INSIDE and OUTSIDE), click Finish. You must designate one of the interfaces on the firewall as the management interface, typically the INSIDE interface. Do this by navigating to the firewall in the object tree. As you select each interface in the object tree, there is a “Management interface” checkbox in the dialog area. Check this box for the interface you want to use. This will be the interface that Firewall Builder uses to connect and upload the firewall rules to.

Firewall Builder: Adding a Network

Firewall Builder

The button for adding new networks/hosts/services/etc is in the upper left, adjacent to the back arrow button.

Now that you have the basic firewall defined, you need to define something for it to talk to. In this case, we will assume that is you internal network, and you want to allow outbound Web browsing and access to an internal Web server (WEB1). For starters, you need to create an object to represent the internal network. Follow these steps to create the network object:

  1. Navigate to Objects -> Networks in the object tree ((in order to make the object tree visible, you may have to go to the View menu and unselect Editor Panel).
  2. Right-click Networks and select New Network.
  3. Enter INTERNAL for the name of the network, and use for the Address field. Enter for the Netmask.
  4. Next, we’ll create an internal Web server at  Right-click Objects -> Hosts in the object tree and select New Host.
  5. Enter WEB1 for the name of the object. Click the Use preconfigured template host objects check box and click Next.
  6. Select PC with one interface and click Finish.
  7. Expand the object tree to User -> Objects -> Hosts -> WEB1 -> eth0 -> WEB1. Edit the IP address to be and click Apply.
  8. Next, define the appropriate services to allow Web-browsing. Navigate in the object tree to Services -> TCP, right-click on it, and select New Service.
  9. Enter HTTP for the name. Leave the source port ranges at zero, but change the destination port range to start and end at 80.
  10. Repeat the previous two steps for HTTPS on port 443 for secure Web pages.

Now that we have created the network object, in the next article, we will cover defining the firewall rules to allow inbound web traffic and uploading the rules to the firewall.

External Links:

The official Firewall Builder web site

Using Firewall Builder on Linux to Create Firewalls from Scratch on

Firewall Builder Tutorial: The Basics on YouTube

netfilter Operation: Part Eleven (Easy Firewall Generator and Firewall Builder)

Easy Firewall Generator

Easy Firewall Generator in action.

Easy Firewall Generator

Easy Firewall Generator is not a GUI per se, but it does help simplify your netfilter configuration and avoid the need to be familiar with the iptables syntax. By using the Web page at, you can enter the relevant information and click the Generate Firewall button. As you select options, if additional information is needed click the Generate Firewall button and the page will refresh and provide the additional input fields. When all of the required information has been entered, the page will change to a text page that can be copied and pasted for iptables to read as a saved configuration. In Fedora, the iptables configuration is stored in /etc/sysconfig/iptables. Although this method requires you to replace the default iptables configuration file used by your distribution, it is fairly painless, and supportes all of the same basic functionality as Firestarter.

Firewall Builder

Firewall Builder is the most complete GUI offering for managing netfilter firewalls with features and capabilities comparable to some commercial firewall products. As is almost always the case, this functionality and capability come at a price: as far as netfilter GUIs are concerned, Firewall Builder is not the easiest to configure and use. If you want or need its superior management capabilities, however, the extra effort is well worth it. (Download firewall builder from Firewall Builder manages netfilter firewall as well as ipfilter, OpenBSD PF, and Cisco PIX firewalls. Firewall builder runs on many popular operating systems including Red Hat, Mandrake, Suse, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, and Windows XP/Vista/7/8.

Firewall Builder

Firewall Builder 5.1 on startup under Windows.

Firewall Builder operates differently than all of the GUIs covered so far. It uses an object-based approach. Essentially, you must define an object to represent any entity that you want to use in the firewall rules. In most cases this means a source, a destination, and a service port at a minimum. Both the configuration and the GUI bear a strong resemblance so that of the Checkpoint Firewall GUI. Once the objects are defined, you can drag or drop them into the rules in order to permit or deny communications between the two.

As of this writing, the current version of Firewall Builder is 5.1. Under Windows, navigating to Start -> Programs -> Firewall Builder 5.1 -> FWBuilder, which opens the main Firewall Builder window. Firewall Builder can also easily be installed under Linux. Under Linux Mint, I was able to install Firewall Builder using the apt-get command, like so:

sudo apt-get install fwbuilder

Once fwbuilder is installed, it can be accessed by clicking on the start menu, then navigating to Internet -> Firewall Builder, which will bring up the main Firewall Builder window.

In the next article, we will cover how to configure firewall rules in Firewall Builder.]

External Links:

The official Firewall Builder website

Getting Started With Firewall Builder at

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