Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Thomas M. Eastep
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover, and with no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License”.
This article applies to Shorewall 4.0 and later. If you are running a version of Shorewall earlier than Shorewall 4.0.0 then please see the documentation for that release.
FTP transfers involve two TCP connections. The first control connection goes from the FTP client to port 21 on the FTP server. This connection is used for logon and to send commands and responses between the endpoints. Data transfers (including the output of “ls” and “dir” commands) requires a second data connection. The data connection is dependent on the mode that the client is operating in:
(often the default for web browsers) -- The client issues a PASV command. Upon receipt of this command, the server listens on a dynamically-allocated port then sends a PASV reply to the client. The PASV reply gives the IP address and port number that the server is listening on. The client then opens a second connection to that IP address and port number.
(often the default for line-mode clients) -- The client listens on a dynamically-allocated port then sends a PORT command to the server. The PORT command gives the IP address and port number that the client is listening on. The server then opens a connection to that IP address and port number; the source port for this connection is 20 (ftp-data in /etc/services).
You can see these commands in action using your linux ftp command-line client in debugging mode. Note that my ftp client defaults to passive mode and that I can toggle between passive and active mode by issuing a “passive” command:
[teastep@wookie Shorewall]$ ftp ftp1.shorewall.net Connected to lists.shorewall.net. 220-=(<*>)=-.:. (( Welcome to PureFTPd 1.0.12 )) .:.-=(<*>)=- 220-You are user number 1 of 50 allowed. 220-Local time is now 10:21 and the load is 0.14. Server port: 21. 220 You will be disconnected after 15 minutes of inactivity. 500 Security extensions not implemented 500 Security extensions not implemented KERBEROS_V4 rejected as an authentication type Name (ftp1.shorewall.net:teastep): ftp 331-Welcome to ftp.shorewall.net 331- 331 Any password will work Password: 230 Any password will work Remote system type is UNIX. Using binary mode to transfer files. ftp> debug Debugging on (debug=1). ftp> ls ---> PASV 227 Entering Passive Mode (192,168,1,193,195,210) ---> LIST 150 Accepted data connection drwxr-xr-x 5 0 0 4096 Nov 9 2002 archives drwxr-xr-x 2 0 0 4096 Feb 12 2002 etc drwxr-sr-x 6 0 50 4096 Feb 19 15:24 pub 226-Options: -l 226 3 matches total ftp> passive Passive mode off. ftp> ls ---> PORT 192,168,1,3,142,58 200 PORT command successful ---> LIST 150 Connecting to port 36410 drwxr-xr-x 5 0 0 4096 Nov 9 2002 archives drwxr-xr-x 2 0 0 4096 Feb 12 2002 etc drwxr-sr-x 6 0 50 4096 Feb 19 15:24 pub 226-Options: -l 226 3 matches total ftp>
Things to notice:
The commands that I issued are strongly emphasized.
Commands sent by the client to the server are preceded by --->
Command responses from the server over the control connection are numbered.
FTP uses a comma as a separator between the bytes of the IP address.
When sending a port number, FTP sends the MSB then the LSB and separates the two bytes by a comma. As shown in the PORT command, port 142,58 translates to 142*256+58 = 36410.
Given the normal loc->net policy of ACCEPT, passive mode access from local clients to remote servers will always work but active mode requires the firewall to dynamically open a “hole” for the server's connection back to the client. Similarly, if you are running an FTP server in your local zone then active mode should always work but passive mode requires the firewall to dynamically open a “hole” for the client's second connection to the server. This is the role of FTP connection-tracking support in the Linux kernel.
Where any form of NAT (SNAT, DNAT, Masquerading) on your firewall is involved, the PORT commands and PASV responses may also need to be modified by the firewall. This is the job of the FTP nat support kernel function.
Including FTP connection-tracking and NAT support normally means that the modules “nf_conntrack_ftp” and “nf_nat_ftp” need to be loaded. Shorewall automatically loads these “helper” modules from /lib/modules/<kernel-version>/kernel/net/netfilter/ and you can determine if they are loaded using the “lsmod” command. The <kernel-version> may be obtained by typing
Note: If you are running kernel 2.6.19 or earlier, then the module names are ip_nat_ftp and ip_conntrack_ftp and they are normally loaded from /lib/modules/<kernel-version>/kernel/net/ipv4/netfilter/.
Because the ftp helper modules must read and modify commands being sent over the command channel, they won't work when the command channel is encrypted through use of TLS/SSL.
Example 1. Example (Kernel 3.2.20)
[root@lists etc]# lsmod Module Size Used by Not tainted iptable_filter 3072 1 iptable_mangle 2816 0 iptable_nat 7684 0 iptable_raw 2048 0 ip_tables 12232 4 iptable_raw,iptable_mangle,iptable_nat,iptable_filter ipt_addrtype 1920 0 ipt_ah 2048 0 ipt_CLUSTERIP 8708 0 ipt_ecn 2304 0 ipt_ECN 3072 0 ipt_iprange 1920 0 ipt_LOG 6528 0 ipt_MASQUERADE 3456 0 ipt_NETMAP 2048 0 ipt_owner 2048 0 ipt_recent 9496 0 ipt_REDIRECT 2048 0 ipt_REJECT 4608 0 ipt_SAME 2432 0 ipt_TCPMSS 4096 0 ipt_tos 1664 0 ipt_TOS 2304 0 ipt_ttl 1920 0 ipt_TTL 2432 0 ipt_ULOG 8068 0 nf_conntrack 59864 28 ipt_MASQUERADE,ipt_CLUSTERIP,nf_nat_tftp,nf_nat_snmp_basic,nf_nat_sip,nf_nat_pptp,nf_nat_irc,nf_nat_h323,nf_nat_ftp,nf_nat_amanda,nf_conntrack_ama nda,nf_conntrack_tftp,nf_conntrack_sip,nf_conntrack_proto_sctp,nf_conntrack_pptp,nf_conntrack_proto_gre,nf_conntrack_netlink,nf_conntrack_netbios_ns,nf_conntrack_irc,nf_conntrack_ h323,nf_conntrack_ftp,xt_helper,xt_state,xt_connmark,xt_conntrack,iptable_nat,nf_nat,nf_conntrack_ipv4 nf_conntrack_amanda 5248 1 nf_nat_amanda nf_conntrack_ftp 9728 1 nf_nat_ftp nf_conntrack_h323 50396 1 nf_nat_h323 nf_conntrack_ipv4 17932 2 iptable_nat nf_conntrack_irc 7064 1 nf_nat_irc nf_conntrack_netbios_ns 3072 0 nf_conntrack_netlink 26240 0 nf_conntrack_pptp 6912 1 nf_nat_pptp nf_conntrack_proto_gre 5632 1 nf_conntrack_pptp nf_conntrack_proto_sctp 8328 0 nf_conntrack_sip 9748 1 nf_nat_sip nf_conntrack_tftp 5780 1 nf_nat_tftp nf_nat 17964 14 ipt_SAME,ipt_REDIRECT,ipt_NETMAP,ipt_MASQUERADE,nf_nat_tftp,nf_nat_sip,nf_nat_pptp,nf_nat_proto_gre,nf_nat_irc,nf_nat_h323,nf_nat_ftp,nf_nat_amand a,nf_conntrack_netlink,iptable_nat nf_nat_amanda 2432 0 nf_nat_ftp 3584 0 nf_nat_h323 7808 0 nf_nat_irc 2816 0 nf_nat_pptp 3840 0 nf_nat_proto_gre 3204 1 nf_nat_pptp nf_nat_sip 4608 0 nf_nat_snmp_basic 10372 0 nf_nat_tftp 1920 0 xt_CLASSIFY 1920 0 xt_comment 1920 0 xt_connmark 2432 0 xt_conntrack 2944 0 xt_dccp 3588 0 xt_hashlimit 10252 0 xt_helper 2688 0 xt_length 1920 0 xt_limit 2688 0 xt_mac 1920 0 xt_mark 1920 0 xt_MARK 2304 0 xt_multiport 3328 1 xt_NFLOG 2176 0 xt_NFQUEUE 2048 0 xt_physdev 2704 2 xt_pkttype 1920 0 xt_policy 3840 0 xt_state 2560 0 xt_tcpmss 2304 0 xt_tcpudp 3328 0 [root@lists etc]#
If you want Shorewall to load these modules from an alternate directory, you need to set the MODULESDIR variable in /etc/shorewall/shorewall.conf to point to that directory.
If you are running kernel 2.6.19 or earlier, replace nf_conntrack_ftp with ip_conntrack_ftp in the following instructions. Similarly, replace nf_nat_ftp with ip_nat_ftp.
The above discussion about commands and responses makes it clear
that the FTP connection-tracking and NAT helpers must scan the traffic on
the control connection looking for PASV and PORT commands as well as PASV
responses. If you run an FTP server on a nonstandard port or you need to
access such a server, you must therefore let the helpers know by
specifying the port in
for the helpers. You should create
/etc/shorewall/modules by copying
You must have modularized FTP connection tracking support in order to use FTP on a non-standard port.
Example 2. if you run an FTP server that listens on port 49 or you need to access a server on the Internet that listens on that port then you would have:
loadmodule nf_conntrack_ftp ports=21,49 loadmodule nf_nat_ftp # NOTE: With kernels prior to 2.6.11, you must specify the ports on this line also
you MUST include port 21 in the ports list or you may have problems accessing regular FTP servers.
If there is a possibility that these modules might be loaded before Shorewall starts, then you should include the port list in /etc/modules.conf:
options nf_conntrack_ftp ports=21,49 options nf_nat_ftp
Once you have made these changes to /etc/shorewall/modules and/or /etc/modules.conf, you must either:
Unload the modules and restart shorewall:
rmmod nf_nat_ftp; rmmod nf_conntrack_ftp; shorewall restart
If you run an FTP server behind your firewall and your server offers a method of specifying the external IP address of your firewall, DON'T USE THAT FEATURE OF YOUR SERVER. Using that option will defeat the purpose of the ftp helper modules and can result in a server that doesn't work.
If the policy from the source zone to the destination zone is ACCEPT and you don't need DNAT (see FAQ 30) then you need no rule.
Otherwise, for FTP you need exactly one rule:
#ACTION SOURCE DESTINATION PROTO DEST SOURCE ORIGINAL # PORT(S) PORT(S) DESTINATION ACCEPT or <source> <destination> tcp 21 - <external IP addr> if DNAT ACTION = DNAT
You need an entry in the ORIGINAL DESTINATION column only if the ACTION is DNAT, you have multiple external IP addresses and you want a specific IP address to be forwarded to your server.
Note that you do NOT need a rule with 20 (ftp-data) in the DEST PORT(S) column. If you post your rules on the mailing list and they show 20 in the DEST PORT(S) column, we will know that you haven't read this article and will either ignore your post or tell you to RTFM.
Shorewall includes an FTP macro that simplifies creation of FTP
rules. The macro source is in
/usr/share/shorewall/macro.FTP. Using the macro is
the preferred way to generate the rules described above. Here are a couple
Example 3. Server running behind a Masquerading Gateway
Suppose that you run an FTP server on 192.168.1.5 in your local zone using the standard port (21). You need this rule:
#ACTION SOURCE DESTINATION PROTO DEST SOURCE ORIGINAL # PORT(S) PORT(S) DESTINATION FTP(DNAT) net loc:192.168.1.5
Example 4. Allow your DMZ FTP access to the Internet
#ACTION SOURCE DESTINATION PROTO DEST SOURCE ORIGINAL # PORT(S) PORT(S) DESTINATION FTP(ACCEPT) dmz net
Note that the FTP connection tracking in the kernel cannot handle cases where a PORT command (or PASV reply) is broken across two packets or is missing the ending <cr>/<lf>. When such cases occur, you will see a console message similar to this one:
Apr 28 23:55:09 gateway kernel: conntrack_ftp: partial PORT 715014972+1
I see this problem occasionally with the FTP server in my DMZ. My solution is to add the following rule:
#ACTION SOURCE DESTINATION PROTO DEST SOURCE ORIGINAL # PORT(S) PORT(S) DESTINATION ACCEPT:info dmz net tcp - 20
The above rule accepts and logs all active mode connections from my DMZ to the net.