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Redirecting ports with iptables

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From time to time I need to test the connectivity of applications listening on a port which has not yet been opened in the firewall. Therefore I use iptables to redirect an open port to the port the application is listening on. Lets assume I want to redirect port 80 to 8080 and port 443 to port 8443. Here’s how to do it:

First enable IP Forwarding

sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

Afterwards enable the redirection for said ports

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i eth0 -p tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-port 8080
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i eth0 -p tcp --dport 443 -j REDIRECT --to-port 8443

Optional: If you also want to redirect the port on the local machine, you have to set an additional iptables rule

iptables -t nat -I OUTPUT -p tcp -o lo --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-port 8080
iptables -t nat -I OUTPUT -p tcp -o lo --dport 443 -j REDIRECT --to-port 8443

This is of course not reboot safe. For reboot safety you need to set ip_forward in the /etc/sysctl.conf or a respective /etc/sysctl.d/ file and use the iptables-restore functionality of your distribution.

PS: This could of course also be used to circumvent firewall restrictions, e.g. to connect to SSH via another port without reconfiguring sshd. Do this at your own risk!

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