Docker and iptables
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
On Linux, Docker manipulates
iptables rules to provide network isolation.
While this is an implementation detail and you should not modify the rules
Docker inserts into your
iptables policies, it does have some implications
on what you need to do if you want to have your own policies in addition to
those managed by Docker.
If you’re running Docker on a host that is exposed to the Internet, you will probably want to have iptables policies in place that prevent unauthorized access to containers or other services running on your host. This page describes how to achieve that, and what caveats you need to be aware of.
Add iptables policies before Docker’s rules
Docker installs two custom iptables chains named
and it ensures that incoming packets are always checked by these two chains
All of Docker’s
iptables rules are added to the
DOCKER chain. Do not
manipulate this chain manually. If you need to add rules which load before
Docker’s rules, add them to the
DOCKER-USER chain. These rules are applied
before any rules Docker creates automatically.
Rules added to the
FORWARD chain -- either manually, or by another
iptables-based firewall -- are evaluated after these chains. This means that
if you expose a port through Docker, this port gets exposed no matter what
rules your firewall has configured. If you want those rules to apply even
when a port gets exposed through Docker, you must add these rules to the
Restrict connections to the Docker host
By default, all external source IPs are allowed to connect to the Docker host.
To allow only a specific IP or network to access the containers, insert a
negated rule at the top of the
DOCKER-USER filter chain. For example, the
following rule restricts external access from all IP addresses except
$ iptables -I DOCKER-USER -i ext_if ! -s 192.168.1.1 -j DROP
Please note that you will need to change
ext_if to correspond with your
host’s actual external interface. You could instead allow connections from a
source subnet. The following rule only allows access from the subnet
$ iptables -I DOCKER-USER -i ext_if ! -s 192.168.1.0/24 -j DROP
Finally, you can specify a range of IP addresses to accept using
(Remember to also add
-m iprange when using
$ iptables -I DOCKER-USER -m iprange -i ext_if ! --src-range 192.168.1.1-192.168.1.3 -j DROP
You can combine
--dst-range to control both
the source and destination. For instance, if the Docker daemon listens on both
10.1.2.3, you can make rules specific to
10.1.2.3 and leave
iptables is complicated and more complicated rules are out of scope for this
topic. See the Netfilter.org HOWTO
for a lot more information.
Docker on a router
Docker also sets the policy for the
FORWARD chain to
DROP. If your Docker
host also acts as a router, this will result in that router not forwarding
any traffic anymore. If you want your system to continue functioning as a
router, you can add explicit
ACCEPT rules to the
DOCKER-USER chain to
$ iptables -I DOCKER-USER -i src_if -o dst_if -j ACCEPT
Prevent Docker from manipulating iptables
It is possible to set the
iptables key to
false in the Docker engine’s configuration file at
/etc/docker/daemon.json, but this option is not appropriate for most users. It is not possible to completely prevent Docker from creating
iptables rules, and creating them after-the-fact is extremely involved and beyond the scope of these instructions. Setting
false will more than likely break container networking for the Docker engine.
For system integrators who wish to build the Docker runtime into other applications, explore the
Setting the default bind address for containers
By default, the Docker daemon will expose ports on the
0.0.0.0 address, i.e.
any address on the host. If you want to change that behavior to only
expose ports on an internal IP address, you can use the
--ip option to
specify a different IP address. However, setting
--ip only changes the
default, it does not restrict services to that IP.
Integration with Firewalld
If you are running Docker version 20.10.0 or higher with firewalld on your system with
--iptables enabled, Docker automatically creates a
firewalld zone called
docker and inserts all the network interfaces it creates (for example,
docker0) into the
docker zone to allow seamless networking.
Consider running the following
firewalld command to remove the docker interface from the zone.
# Please substitute the appropriate zone and docker interface $ firewall-cmd --zone=trusted --remove-interface=docker0 --permanent $ firewall-cmd --reload
dockerd daemon inserts the interface into the