How to Set Up a Firewall with UFW on Debian 9
7 min read
Debian includes several packages which provide tools for managing a firewall with iptables installed as part of the base system. It can be complicated for beginners to learn how to use the iptables tool to properly configure and manage a firewall, but UFW simplifies it.
UFW (Uncomplicated Firewall) is a user-friendly front-end for managing iptables firewall rules and its main goal is to make managing iptables easier or as the name says uncomplicated.
In this tutorial, we will show you how to set up a firewall with UFW on Debian 9.
Before proceeding with this tutorial, make sure the user you are logged in as has sudo privileges.
UFW is not installed by default in Debian 9. You can install the
ufw package by typing:
sudo apt install ufw
Check UFW Status
Once the installation process is complete, you can check the status of UFW with the following command:
sudo ufw status verbose
The output will look like this:
UFW is disabled by default. The installation will not activate the firewall automatically to avoid a lockout from the server.
If UFW is activated, the output will look similar to the following:
UFW Default Policies
By default, UFW will block all of the incoming connections and allow all outbound connections. This means that anyone trying to access your server will not be able to connect unless you specifically open the port, while all applications and services running on your server will be able to access the outside world.
The default polices are defined in the
/etc/default/ufw file and can be changed using the
sudo ufw default <policy> <chain> command.
Firewall policies are the foundation for building more detailed and user-defined rules. In most cases, the initial UFW Default Policies are a good starting point.
When installing a package with
apt it will add an application profile to
/etc/ufw/applications.d directory that describes the service and contains UFW settings.
To list all application profiles available on your system type:
sudo ufw app list
Depending on the packages installed on your system the output will look similar to the following:
Available applications: DNS IMAP IMAPS OpenSSH POP3 POP3S Postfix Postfix SMTPS Postfix Submission ...
To find more information about a specific profile and included rules, use the following command:
sudo ufw app info OpenSSH
Profile: OpenSSH Title: Secure shell server, an rshd replacement Description: OpenSSH is a free implementation of the Secure Shell protocol. Port: 22/tcp
AThe output above tells us that the OpenSSH profile opens port
Allow SSH Connections
Before enabling the UFW firewall first we need to allow incoming SSH connections.
If you’re connecting to your server from a remote location, which is almost always the case and you enable the UFW firewall before explicitly allow incoming SSH connections you will no longer be able to connect to your Debian server.
To configure your UFW firewall to allow incoming SSH connections, run the following command:
sudo ufw allow OpenSSH
Rules updated Rules updated (v6)
If the SSH server is listening on a port other than the default port 22, you will need to open that port.
For example, your ssh server listens on port
8822, then you can use the following command to allow connections on that port:
sudo ufw allow 8822/tcp
Now that your UFW firewall is configured to allow incoming SSH connections, you can enable it by running:
sudo ufw enable
Command may disrupt existing ssh connections. Proceed with operation (y|n)? y Firewall is active and enabled on system startup
You will be warned that enabling the firewall may disrupt existing ssh connections, just type
y and hit
Allow connections on other ports
Depending on the applications that run on your server and your specific needs you’ll also need to allow incoming access to some other ports.
Below are several examples of how to allow incoming connections to some of the most common services:
Open port 80 - HTTP
HTTP connections can be allowed with the following command:
sudo ufw allow http
Instead of the
http profile, you can use the port number,
sudo ufw allow 80/tcp
Open port 443 - HTTPS
HTTPS connections can be allowed with the following command:
sudo ufw allow https
To achieve the same instead of
https you can use the port number,
sudo ufw allow 443/tcp
Open port 8080
If you run Tomcat or any other application that listens on port 8080 you can allow incoming connections with:
sudo ufw allow 8080/tcp
Allow Port Ranges
With UFW you can also allow access to port ranges. When allowing port ranges with UFW, you must specify the protocol, either
For example, to allow ports from
7200 on both
udp, run the following command:
sudo ufw allow 7100:7200/tcp
sudo ufw allow 7100:7200/udp
Allow Specific IP Addresses
If you want to allow access on all ports from a specific IP address, use the
ufw allow from command followed by the IP address:
sudo ufw allow from 18.104.22.168
Allow Specific IP Addresses on Specific port
To allow access on a specific port, let’s say port 22 from your work machine with IP address of 22.214.171.124 use the following command:
sudo ufw allow from 126.96.36.199 to any port 22
The command for allowing connection from a subnet of IP addresses is the same as when using a single IP address, the only difference is that you need to specify the netmask. For example, if you want to allow access for IP addresses ranging from 192.168.1.1 to 192.168.1.254 to port
3360 (MySQL) you would run the following command:
sudo ufw allow from 192.168.1.0/24 to any port 3306
Allowing Connections to a Specific Network Interface
To allow access on a specific port let’s say port
3360 on a specific network interface
eth2, use the
allow in on command followed by the name of the interface:
sudo ufw allow in on eth2 to any port 3306
The default policy for all incoming connections is set to
deny which means that UFW will block all incoming connections unless you specifically open the connection.
Let’s say you opened the ports
443 and your server is under attack from the
188.8.131.52/24 network. To deny all connections from
184.108.40.206/24 , run the following command:
sudo ufw deny from 220.127.116.11/24
If you only want to deny access to ports
18.104.22.168/24 you would use:
sudo ufw deny from 22.214.171.124/24 to any port 80
sudo ufw deny from 126.96.36.199/24 to any port 443
Writing deny rules is the same as writing allow rules, you only need to replace
Delete UFW Rules
There are two different ways to delete UFW rules, by rule number and by specifying the actual rule.
Deleting UFW rules by rule number is easier, especially if you are new to UFW.
To delete a rule by a rule number first you need to find the number of the rule you want to delete. To do that run following command:
sudo ufw status numbered
Status: active To Action From -- ------ ---- [ 1] 22/tcp ALLOW IN Anywhere [ 2] 80/tcp ALLOW IN Anywhere [ 3] 8080/tcp ALLOW IN Anywhere
For example to delete rule number 3, the rule that allows connections to port 8080, you would enter:
sudo ufw delete 3
The second method is to delete a rule by specifying the actual rule. For example, if you added a rule to open port
8069 you can delete it with:
sudo ufw delete allow 8069
If for any reason you want to stop UFW and deactivate all rules run:
sudo ufw disable
Later if you want to re-enable UTF and activate all rules just type:
sudo ufw enable
Resetting UFW will disable UFW, and delete all active rules. This is helpful if you want to revert all of your changes and start fresh.
To reset UFW simply type in the following command:
sudo ufw reset
You have learned how to install and configure UFW firewall on your Debian 9 machine. Be sure to allow all incoming connections that are necessary for the proper functioning of your system, while limiting all unnecessary connections.
If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment below.