VPC firewall rules overview

Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) firewall rules apply to a given project and network. If you want to apply firewall rules to multiple VPC networks in an organization, see Hierarchical firewall policies overiew. The rest of this page covers VPC firewall rules only.

VPC firewall rules let you allow or deny connections to or from your virtual machine (VM) instances based on a configuration that you specify. Enabled VPC firewall rules are always enforced, protecting your instances regardless of their configuration and operating system, even if they have not started up.

Every VPC network functions as a distributed firewall. While firewall rules are defined at the network level, connections are allowed or denied on a per-instance basis. You can think of the VPC firewall rules as existing not only between your instances and other networks, but also between individual instances within the same network.

For more information about firewalls, see Firewall (computing).

Best practices for firewall rules

When designing and evaluating your firewall rules, keep in mind the following best practices:

  • Implement least-privilege principles. Block all traffic by default and only allow the specific traffic you need. This includes limiting the rule to just the protocols and ports you need.
  • Use hierarchical firewall policy rules to block traffic that should never be allowed at an organization or folder level.
  • For "allow" rules, restrict them to specific VMs by specifying the service account of the VMs.
  • If you need to create rules based on IP addresses, try to minimize the number of rules. It's easier to track one rule that allows traffic to a range of 16 VMs than it is to track 16 separate rules.
  • Turn on Firewall Rules Logging and use Firewall Insights to verify that firewall rules are being used in the intended way. Firewall Rules Logging can incur costs, so you might want to consider using it selectively.

Firewall rules in Google Cloud

When you create a VPC firewall rule, you specify a VPC network and a set of components that define what the rule does. The components enable you to target certain types of traffic, based on the traffic's protocol, destination ports, sources, and destinations. For more information, see firewall rule components.

You create or modify VPC firewall rules by using the Google Cloud console, Google Cloud CLI, and REST API. When you create or modify a firewall rule, you can specify the instances to which it is intended to apply by using the target component of the rule.

In addition to firewall rules that you create, Google Cloud has other rules that can affect incoming (ingress) or outgoing (egress) connections:

  • Google Cloud doesn't allow certain IP protocols, such as egress traffic on TCP port 25 within a VPC network. For more information, see always blocked traffic.

  • Google Cloud always allows communication between a VM instance and its corresponding metadata server at 169.254.169.254. For more information, see always allowed traffic.

  • Every network has two implied firewall rules that permit outgoing connections and block incoming connections. Firewall rules that you create can override these implied rules.

  • The default network is pre-populated with firewall rules that you can delete or modify.

Specifications

VPC firewall rules have the following characteristics:

  • Each firewall rule applies to incoming (ingress) or outgoing (egress) connection, not both. For more information, see direction of connection.

  • Firewall rules support IPv4 connections. IPv6 connections are also supported in VPC networks that have IPv6 enabled. When specifying a source for an ingress rule or a destination for an egress rule by address, you can specify IPv4 or IPv6 addresses or blocks in CIDR notation.

  • Each firewall rule can contain either IPv4 or IPv6 ranges, but not both.

  • Each firewall rule's action is either allow or deny. The rule applies to connections as long as it is enforced. For example, you can disable a rule for troubleshooting purposes.

  • When you create a firewall rule, you must select a VPC network. While the rule is enforced at the instance level, its configuration is associated with a VPC network. This means that you cannot share firewall rules among VPC networks, including networks connected by VPC Network Peering or by using Cloud VPN tunnels.

  • VPC firewall rules are stateful.

    • When a connection is allowed through the firewall in either direction, return traffic matching this connection is also allowed. You cannot configure a firewall rule to deny associated response traffic.
    • Return traffic must match the 5-tuple (source IP, destination IP, source port, destination port, protocol) of the accepted request traffic, but with the source and destination addresses and ports reversed.
    • Google Cloud associates incoming packets with corresponding outbound packets by using a connection tracking table.
    • Google Cloud implements connection tracking regardless of whether the protocol supports connections. If a connection is allowed between a source and a target (for an ingress rule) or between a target and a destination (for an egress rule), all response traffic is allowed as long as the firewall's connection tracking state is active. A firewall rule's tracking state is considered active if at least one packet is sent every 10 minutes.
    • ICMP response traffic, such as "ICMP TYPE 3, DESTINATION UNREACHABLE", generated in response to an allowed TCP/UDP connection is allowed through the firewall. This behavior is consistent with RFC 792.
  • VPC firewall rules do not reassemble fragmented TCP packets. Therefore, a firewall rule applicable to the TCP protocol can only apply to the first fragment because it contains the TCP header. Firewall rules applicable to the TCP protocol do not apply to the subsequent TCP fragments.

  • The maximum number of tracked connections in the firewall rule table depends on the number of stateful connections supported by the machine type of the instance. If the maximum number of tracked connections is exceeded, tracking is stopped for the connections that have the longest idle interval to let new connections be tracked.

    Instance machine type Maximum number of stateful connections
    Shared-core machine types 130,000
    Instances with 1–8 vCPUs 130,000 connections per vCPU
    Instances with more than 8 vCPUs 1,040,000 (130,000×8) connections total

Implied rules

Every VPC network has two implied IPv4 firewall rules. If IPv6 is enabled in a VPC network, the network also has two implied IPv6 firewall rules. These rules are not shown in the console.

Implied IPv4 firewall rules are present in all VPC networks, regardless of how the networks are created, and whether they are auto mode or custom mode VPC networks. The default network has the same implied rules.

  • Implied IPv4 allow egress rule. An egress rule whose action is allow, destination is 0.0.0.0/0, and priority is the lowest possible (65535) lets any instance send traffic to any destination, except for traffic blocked by Google Cloud. A higher priority firewall rule may restrict outbound access. Internet access is allowed if no other firewall rules deny outbound traffic and if the instance has an external IP address or uses a Cloud NAT instance. For more information, see Internet access requirements.

  • Implied IPv4 deny ingress rule. An ingress rule whose action is deny, source is 0.0.0.0/0, and priority is the lowest possible (65535) protects all instances by blocking incoming connections to them. A higher priority rule might allow incoming access. The default network includes some additional rules that override this one, allowing certain types of incoming connections.

If IPv6 is enabled, the VPC network also has these two implied rules:

  • Implied IPv6 allow egress rule. An egress rule whose action is allow, destination is ::/0, and priority is the lowest possible (65535) lets any instance send traffic to any destination, except for traffic blocked by Google Cloud. A higher priority firewall rule may restrict outbound access. Internet access is allowed if no other firewall rules deny outbound traffic and if the instance has an external IP address.

  • Implied IPv6 deny ingress rule. An ingress rule whose action is deny, source is ::/0, and priority is the lowest possible (65535) protects all instances by blocking incoming connections to them. A higher priority rule might allow incoming access.

The implied rules cannot be removed, but they have the lowest possible priorities. You can create rules that override them as long as your rules have higher priorities (priority numbers less than 65535). Because deny rules take precedence over allow rules of the same priority, an ingress allow rule with a priority of 65535 never takes effect.

Pre-populated rules in the default network

The default network is pre-populated with firewall rules that allow incoming connections to instances. These rules can be deleted or modified as necessary:

Rule name Direction Priority Source ranges Action Protocols and ports Description
default-allow-internal ingress 65534 10.128.0.0/9 allow tcp:0-65535
udp:0-65535
icmp
Permits incoming connections to VM instances from other instances within the same VPC network.
default-allow-ssh ingress 65534 0.0.0.0/0 allow tcp:22 Lets you connect to instances with tools such as ssh, scp, or sftp.
default-allow-rdp ingress 65534 0.0.0.0/0 allow tcp:3389 Lets you connect to instances using the Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).
default-allow-icmp ingress 65534 0.0.0.0/0 allow icmp Lets you use tools such as ping.

You can create similar firewall rules for networks other than the default network. See Configure firewall rules for common use cases for more information.

Blocked and limited traffic

Separate from VPC firewall rules and hierarchical firewall policies, Google Cloud blocks or limits certain traffic as described in the following table.

Traffic type Details
Packet rate and bandwidth

applies to:

  • All egress packets
  • All ingress packets
Google Cloud accounts for bandwidth per VM instance, for each network interface (NIC) or IP address. A VM's machine type defines its maximum possible egress rate; however, you can only achieve that maximum possible egress rate in specific situations.

For details, see Network bandwidth in the Compute Engine documentation.
DHCP offers and acknowledgments

applies to:

  • Ingress packets to UDP port 68 (DHCPv4)
  • Ingress packets to UDP port 546 (DHCPv6)
Google Cloud blocks incoming DHCP offers and acknowledgments from all sources except for DHCP packets coming from the metadata server.
Protocols supported by Google Cloud external IP addresses

applies to:

  • Ingress packets to external IP addresses

External IPv4 and IPv6 addresses only accept TCP, UDP, ICMP, IPIP, AH, ESP, SCTP, and GRE packets. Resources that use external IP addresses impose additional protocol restrictions:

SMTP (port 25) traffic

applies to:

  • Egress packets to external IP addresses on TCP port 25

By default, Google Cloud blocks egress packets sent to TCP destination port 25 of an external IP address (including an external IP address of another Google Cloud resource). However, this traffic is not blocked in projects owned by select Google Cloud customers. If you have questions about whether external SMTP egress on port 25 is allowed in your projects, contact your Google Cloud Technical Account Manager or sales team.

This block does not apply to egress packets sent to TCP destination port 25 of an internal IP address, including a privately used public IP address in a VPC network or an on-premises network.

If external SMTP egress on port 25 is allowed in your project, and you want to send this type of traffic, the following additional conditions must be met:

  • Egress firewall rules in the VPC network and hierarchical firewall policies applicable to the VPC network must allow egress to the external IP address on TCP port 25. The implied allow egress rules meet this requirement because they allow egress to (and established inbound responses from) any IP address.
  • The applicable route for the destination must use the default internet gateway next hop. The system-generated default routes meet this requirement.
  • The instance sending packets to the external IP address must meet the internet access requirements.

You can prevent external SMTP egress by creating egress deny VPC firewall rules or hierarchical firewall policies.

Always allowed traffic

For VM instances, VPC firewall rules and hierarchical firewall policies do not apply to the following:

  • Packets sent to and received from the Google Cloud metadata server
  • Packets sent to an IP address assigned to one of the instance's own network interfaces (NICs) where packets stay within the VM itself. IP addresses assigned to an instance's NIC include:

    • The primary internal IPv4 address of the NIC
    • Any internal IPv4 address from an alias IP range of the NIC
    • If IPv6 is configured on the subnet, any of the IPv6 addresses assigned to the NIC
    • An internal or external IPv4 address associated with a forwarding rule, for load balancing or protocol forwarding, if the instance is a backend for the load balancer or is a target instance for protocol forwarding
    • Loopback addresses
    • Addresses configured as part of networking overlay software you run within the instance itself

Google Cloud metadata server

Google Cloud runs a local metadata server alongside each instance at 169.254.169.254. This server is essential to the operation of the instance, so the instance can access it regardless of any firewall rules that you configure. The metadata server provides the following basic services to the instance:

Product interactions

The following sections describe how firewall rules and hierarchical firewall policies interact with other Google Cloud products.

Firewall rules and pass-through load balancers

VPC firewall rules and hierarchical firewall policies do control which of the forwarding rule's supported protocols and ports are allowed to the Network Load Balancing and Internal TCP/UDP Load Balancing backends. For details, see:

Firewall rules and proxy load balancers

For external HTTP(S) Load Balancing, Internal HTTP(S) Load Balancing, External SSL Proxy Load Balancing, and External TCP Proxy Load Balancing, VPC firewall rules and hierarchical firewall policies do not control which protocols and ports are accepted by the proxy load balancer's forwarding rule IP address. The forwarding rule alone determines which protocols and ports are accepted by the proxy load balancer.

VPC firewall rules and hierarchical firewall policies do control how these proxy load balancers communicate to their backends. For details, see:

Firewall rules and Cloud VPN

Firewall rules and hierarchical firewall policies do not control which protocols and ports are accepted by the Cloud VPN gateway.

Cloud VPN gateways only accept packets for the protocols and ports described in the Cloud VPN specifications.

Firewall rules and GKE

Google Kubernetes Engine creates and manages firewall rules automatically when you create a cluster or resources in the cluster (including Services and Ingresses). For more information, see Automatically created firewall rules in the Google Kubernetes Engine documentation.

Firewall rule components

Each firewall rule consists of the following configuration components:

  • The direction of connection: ingress rules apply to incoming connections from specified sources to Google Cloud targets, and egress rules apply to connections going to specified destinations from targets.

  • A numerical priority, which determines whether the rule is applied. Only the highest priority (lowest priority number) rule whose other components match traffic is applied; conflicting rules with lower priorities are ignored.

  • An action on match, either allow or deny, which determines whether the rule permits or blocks connections.

  • The enforcement status of the firewall rule: You can enable and disable firewall rules without deleting them.

  • A target, which defines the instances (including GKE clusters and App Engine flexible environment instances) to which the rule applies.

  • A source filter for ingress rules or a destination filter for egress rules.

  • The protocol (such as TCP, UDP, or ICMP) and destination port.

  • A boolean logs option which logs connections that match the rule into Cloud Logging.

Components summary

Ingress (inbound) rule
Priority Action Enforcement Target (defines the destination) Source filter Protocols and ports
Integer from 0 to 65535, inclusive; default 1000
allow or deny enabled (default) or disabled The target parameter specifies the destination; it can be one of the following: One of the following:
  • Range of IPv4 addresses
  • Range of IPv6 addresses
  • Range of IPv4 addresses and instances by network tag
  • Range of IPv4 addresses and instances by service account
  • Range of IPv6 addresses and instances by network tag
  • Range of IPv6 addresses and instances by service account
If no source is specified, an IPv4 range of 0.0.0.0/0 is used.

Specify a protocol or a protocol and a destination port.

If not set, the rule applies to all protocols and destination ports.

Egress (outbound) rule
Priority Action Enforcement Target (defines the source) Destination filter Protocols and ports
Integer from 0 to 65535, inclusive; default 1000
allow or deny enabled (default) or disabled The target parameter specifies the source; it can be one of the following:
  • All instances in the VPC network
  • Instances by network tag
  • Instances by service account
One of the following:
  • Range of IPv4 addresses
  • Range of IPv6 addresses
If no destination is specified, an IPv4 range of 0.0.0.0/0 is used.
Specify a protocol or a protocol and a destination port.

If not set, the rule applies to all protocols and destination ports.

Direction of traffic

You can create firewall rules that apply to ingress or egress traffic. A single rule cannot apply to both ingress and egress traffic. However, you can create multiple rules to define the ingress and egress traffic that you allow or deny through the firewall. The direction is always defined from the perspective of the VM that the firewall rule applies to (the target).

  • The ingress direction describes connections sent from a source to a target. Ingress rules apply to packets for new sessions where the destination of the packet is the target.

  • The egress direction describes traffic sent from a target to a destination. Egress rules apply to packets for new sessions where the source of the packet is the target.

  • If you don't specify a direction, Google Cloud uses ingress.

Consider an example connection between two VMs in the same network. Traffic from VM1 to VM2 can be controlled by using either of these firewall rules:

  • An ingress rule with a target of VM2 and a source of VM1.

  • An egress rule with a target of VM1 and a destination of VM2.

Priority

The firewall rule priority is an integer from 0 to 65535, inclusive. Lower integers indicate higher priorities. If you do not specify a priority when creating a rule, it is assigned a priority of 1000.

The relative priority of a firewall rule determines whether it is applicable when evaluated against others. The evaluation logic works as follows:

  • The highest priority rule applicable to a target for a given type of traffic takes precedence. Target specificity does not matter. For example, a higher priority ingress rule for certain destination ports and protocols intended for all targets overrides a similarly defined rule with lower priority for the same destination ports and protocols intended for specific targets.

  • The highest priority rule applicable for a given protocol and destination port definition takes precedence, even when the protocol and destination port definition is more general. For example, a higher priority ingress rule allowing traffic for all protocols and destination ports intended for given targets overrides a lower priority ingress rule denying TCP 22 for the same targets.

  • A rule with a deny action overrides another with an allow action only if the two rules have the same priority. Using relative priorities, it is possible to build allow rules that override deny rules, and deny rules that override allow rules.

  • Rules with the same priority and the same action have the same result. However, the rule that is used during the evaluation is indeterminate. Normally, it doesn't matter which rule is used except when you enable Firewall Rules Logging. If you want your logs to show firewall rules being evaluated in a consistent and well- defined order, assign them unique priorities.

Consider the following example where two firewall rules exist:

  • An ingress rule from sources 0.0.0.0/0 (any IPv4 address) applicable to all targets, all protocols, and all destination ports, having a deny action and a priority of 1000.

  • An ingress rule from sources 0.0.0.0/0 (any IPv4 address) applicable to specific targets with the tag webserver, for traffic on TCP 80, with an allow action.

The priority of the second rule determines whether TCP traffic to port 80 is allowed for the webserver targets:

  • If the priority of the second rule is set to a number greater than 1000, it has a lower priority, so the first rule denying all traffic applies.

  • If the priority of the second rule is set to 1000, the two rules have identical priorities, so the first rule denying all traffic applies.

  • If the priority of the second rule is set to a number less than 1000, it has a higher priority, thus allowing traffic on TCP 80 for the webserver targets. Absent other rules, the first rule would still deny other types of traffic to the webserver targets, and it would also deny all traffic, including TCP 80, to instances without the webserver tag.

The previous example demonstrates how you can use priorities to create selective allow rules and global deny rules to implement a security best practice of least privilege.

Action on match

The action component of a firewall rule determines whether it permits or blocks traffic, subject to the other components of the rule:

  • An allow action permits connections that match the other specified components.

  • A deny action blocks connections that match the other specified components.

Enforcement

You can choose whether a firewall rule is enforced by setting its state to enabled or disabled. You set the enforcement state when you create a rule or when you update a rule.

If you don't set an enforcement state when you create a new firewall rule, the firewall rule is automatically enabled.

Use cases

Disabling and enabling are useful for troubleshooting and performing maintenance. Consider changing the enforcement of a firewall rule in the following situations:

  • For troubleshooting: In conjunction with Firewall Rules Logging, you can temporarily disable a firewall rule to determine if the rule is responsible for blocking or allowing traffic. This is useful for situations where multiple firewall rules apply to the same traffic. Disabling and enabling rules is more useful than deleting and re-creating rules because none of the other components of the rule are lost.

  • For maintenance: Disabling firewall rules can simplify periodic maintenance. For example, you might choose to enable an ingress firewall rule that allows SSH access only at times when you need to perform maintenance using SSH. When you're not performing maintenance, you can disable the rule.

Effects on existing traffic

When you change the enforcement state of a firewall rule, or when you create a new rule that is enforced, the change applies to new connections only. Existing connections are not affected by the change.

Source, destination, target

You specify either a source or a destination, but not both, depending on the direction of the firewall rule that you create. The meaning for the target parameter changes depending on the firewall rule's direction.

  • For ingress (inbound) rules, the target parameter specifies the destination instances for traffic; you cannot use the destination parameter. You specify the source by using the source parameter.

  • For egress (outbound) rules, the target parameter specifies the source instances for traffic; you cannot use the source parameter. You specify the destination by using the destination parameter.

Instances also includes GKE clusters and App Engine flexible environment instances.

Target parameter

The target parameter always identifies Google Cloud instances, but whether a target is a destination of traffic or a source for traffic depends on the direction of the rule, as discussed in Source, destination, target.

You specify a target by using one of the following options:

  • All instances in the network. The firewall rule applies to all instances in the network.

  • Instances by target tags. The firewall rule applies only to instances with a matching network tag.

  • Instances by target service accounts. The firewall rule applies only to instances that use a specific service account. For the maximum number of target service accounts that you can apply per firewall rule, see VPC resource quotas.

For information about the benefits and limitations of target tags and target service accounts, see filtering by service account versus network tag.

Targets and IP addresses for ingress rules

The target of an ingress firewall rule applies to all traffic arriving on an instance's network interface (NIC) in the VPC network, regardless of how the target is specified. An ingress firewall rule takes effect on packets whose destinations match one of the following IP addresses:

  • The primary internal IPv4 address assigned to the instance's NIC

  • Any configured alias IP ranges on the instance's NIC

  • The external IPv4 address that's associated with the instance's NIC

  • If IPv6 is configured on the subnet, any of the IPv6 addresses assigned to the NIC

  • An internal or external IP address associated with a forwarding rule used for pass-through load balancing, where the instance is a backend for an internal TCP/UDP load balancer or a network load balancer

  • An internal or external IP address associated with a forwarding rule used for protocol forwarding, where the instance is referenced by a target instance

  • An IP address within the destination range of a custom static route using the instance as a next hop VM (next-hop-instance or next-hop-address)

  • An IP address within the destination range of a custom static route using an internal TCP/UDP load balancer (next-hop-ilb) next hop, if the VM is a backend for that load balancer

Targets and IP addresses for egress rules

The target of an egress firewall rule applies to all traffic leaving a VM instance's network interface (NIC) in the VPC network, regardless of how the target is specified:

  • By default, IP forwarding is disabled. An egress firewall rule takes effect on packets whose sources match any of the following:

    • The primary internal IPv4 address of an instance's NIC

    • Any configured Alias IP range on an instance's NIC

    • If IPv6 is configured on the subnet, any of the IPv6 addresses assigned to the NIC

    • An internal or external IP address associated with a forwarding rule, for pass-through load balancing or protocol forwarding, if the instance is a backend for an internal TCP/UDP load balancer, a network load balancer, or is referenced by a target instance.

  • When IP forwarding is enabled, the VM is permitted to send packets with any source.

Source parameter

The source parameter is only applicable to ingress rules. It must be one of the following:

  • Source IPv4 range or source IPv6 ranges: You can specify ranges of IP addresses as sources for packets. The ranges can be either IPv4 or IPv6 addresses, but not a combination of both. The ranges can include addresses inside your VPC network and addresses outside it.

  • Source tags: You can define the source for packets as the primary internal IP address of the network interface of VM instances in the same VPC network, identifying those source instances by a matching network tag. Source tags only apply to traffic sent from the network interface of another applicable instance in your VPC network. A source tag cannot control packets whose sources are external IP addresses, even if the external IP addresses belong to instances. For the maximum number of source tags that you can apply per firewall rule, see VPC resource quotas.

  • Source service accounts: You can define the source for packets as the primary internal IP address of the network interface of instances in the same VPC network, identifying those source instances by the service accounts they use. Source service accounts only apply to traffic sent from the network interface of another applicable instance in your VPC network. A source service account cannot control packets whose sources are external IP addresses, even if the external IP addresses belong to instances. For the maximum number of source service accounts that you can apply per firewall rule, see VPC resource quotas.

  • Certain combinations of the above are possible:

    • A combination of source IP ranges and source tags can be used.
    • A combination of source IP ranges and source service accounts can be used.

    When combinations are used, the effective source set is the union of the source range IP addresses and the instances identified by network tags or service accounts. That is, if either the source IP range, or the source tags (or source service accounts) match the filter criteria, the source is included in the effective source set.

  • If all source IP ranges, source tags, and source service accounts are omitted, Google Cloud defines the source as any IPv4 address (0.0.0.0/0). IPv6 sources are not included.

Sources and IP addresses

When an ingress firewall rule's source parameter includes a source tag or the source service account, Google Cloud identifies VMs which match a tag or service account and includes the following IP addresses from those VMs in the effective source set for the firewall rule.

  • The primary internal IPv4 address of the VM's network interface (NIC) in the VPC network

  • Any IPv6 addresses assigned to the VM's NIC in the VPC network

Alias IP ranges for that NIC and IP addresses for associated forwarding rules are not included when using source tags or source service accounts. If you need to include the alias IP ranges of a VM's network interface, add the alias ranges using a source IPv4 range.

If the firewall rule uses a combination of source IP ranges and source tags or a combination of source IP ranges and source service accounts, the effective source set contains the IP addresses identified by the tag or service account plus the IP addresses specified in the source IP ranges.

Destination parameter

The destination parameter is only applicable to egress rules. The destination parameter only accepts IP address ranges. The ranges can include addresses inside your VPC network and addresses outside it.

If you do not specify a destination range, Google Cloud defines the destination to be all IPv4 addresses (0.0.0.0/0). IPv6 destinations are not included.

Protocols and ports

You can narrow the scope of a firewall rule by specifying protocols or protocols and destination ports. You can specify a protocol or a combination of protocols and their destination ports. If you omit both protocols and ports, the firewall rule is applicable for all traffic on any protocol and any destination port. You can only specify destination ports. Rules based on source ports are not supported.

To make a firewall rule specific, you must first specify a protocol. If the protocol supports ports, you can optionally specify a destination port number or port range. Not all protocols support ports, though. For example, ports exist for TCP and UDP, but not for ICMP. (ICMP does have different ICMP types, but they are not ports and cannot be specified in a firewall rule.)

You can use the following protocol names in firewall rules: tcp, udp, icmp (for IPv4 ICMP), esp, ah, sctp, and ipip. For all other protocols, use the IANA protocol numbers

Many protocols use the same name and number in both IPv4 and IPv6, but some protocols, such as ICMP, do not.

IPv6 Hop-by-Hop protocol is not supported in firewall rules.

Google Cloud firewall rules use port information to reference the destination port of a packet, not its source port:

  • For ingress (inbound) firewall rules, destination ports are ports on systems identified by the rule's target parameter. (For ingress rules, the target parameter specifies the destination VMs for traffic.)

  • For egress (outbound) firewall rules, destination ports represent ports on the systems identified by the rule's destination parameter.

The following table summarizes valid protocol and destination port specification combinations for Google Cloud firewall rules.

Specification Example Explanation
No protocol and port If you do not specify a protocol, the firewall rule applies to all protocols and their applicable destination ports.
Protocol tcp If you specify a protocol without any port information, the firewall rule applies to that protocol and all its applicable ports.
Protocol and single port tcp:80 If you specify a protocol and a single destination port, the firewall rule applies to that destination port of the protocol.
Protocol and port range tcp:20-22 If you specify a protocol and a port range, the firewall rule applies to that destination port range for the protocol.
Combinations icmp,tcp:80
tcp:443
udp:67-69
You can specify various combinations of protocols and destination ports to which the firewall rule applies. For more information, see creating firewall rules.

Source and target filtering by service account

You can use service accounts to create firewall rules that are more specific in nature:

  • For both ingress and egress rules, you can use service accounts to specify targets.

  • For ingress rules, you can specify the source for incoming packets as the primary internal IP address of any VM in the network where the VM uses a particular service account.

The service account must be created in the same project as the firewall rule before you create a firewall rule that relies on it. While the system does not stop you from creating a rule that uses a service account from a different project, the rule is not enforced if the service account doesn't exist in the firewall rule's project.

Firewall rules that use service accounts to identify instances apply to both new instances created and associated with the service account and existing instances if you change their service accounts. Changing the service account associated with an instance requires that you stop and restart it. You can associate service accounts with individual instances and with instance templates used by managed instance groups.

Filtering by service account versus network tag

This section highlights key points to consider when deciding if you should use service accounts or network tags to define targets and sources (for ingress rules).

If you need strict control over how firewall rules are applied to VMs, use target service accounts and source service accounts instead of target tags and source tags:

  • A network tag is an arbitrary attribute. One or more network tags can be associated with an instance by any Identity and Access Management (IAM) principal who has permission to edit it. IAM principals with the Compute Engine Instance Admin role to a project have this permission. IAM principals who can edit an instance can change its network tags, which could change the set of applicable firewall rules for that instance.

  • A service account represents an identity associated with an instance. Only one service account can be associated with an instance. You control access to the service account by controlling the grant of the Service Account User role for other IAM principals. For an IAM principal to start an instance by using a service account, that principal must have the Service Account User role to at least use that service account and appropriate permissions to create instances (for example, having the Compute Engine Instance Admin role to the project).

You cannot mix and match service accounts and network tags in any firewall rule:

  • You cannot use target service accounts and target tags together in any firewall rule (ingress or egress).

  • If you specify targets by target tag or target service account, the following are invalid sources for ingress firewall rules.

    Targets Invalid sources
    Target tags Source service accounts

    Combination of source IP ranges and source service accounts
    Target service account Source tags

    Combination of source IP ranges and source tags

Following are operational considerations for service accounts and network tags:

  • Changing a service account for an instance requires stopping and restarting it. Adding or removing tags can be done while the instance is running.

  • There are a maximum number of target service accounts, source service accounts, target network tags, and source network tags that can be specified for firewall rules. For more information, see VPC resource quotas.

  • If you identify instances by network tag, the firewall rule applies to the primary internal IP address of the instance.

  • Service account firewall rules apply to the GKE node, not the GKE Pod.

Roles and permissions

The following table describes the Identity and Access Management (IAM) permissions that you need for working with VPC firewall rules.

Task Required permission Sample role
Create a firewall rule compute.firewalls.create Compute Security Admin
(roles/compute.securityAdmin
Delete a firewall rule compute.firewalls.delete Compute Security Admin
(roles/compute.securityAdmin
Make changes to firewall rules compute.firewalls.update Compute Security Admin
(roles/compute.securityAdmin
View details about a firewall rule compute.firewalls.get Compute Network Viewer
(roles/compute.networkViewer)
View a list of firewall rules compute.firewalls.list Compute Network Viewer
(roles/compute.networkViewer)

Use cases

The following use cases demonstrate how firewall rules work. In these examples, all the firewall rules are enabled.

Ingress cases

Ingress firewall rules control incoming connections from a source to target instances in your VPC network. The source for an ingress rule can be defined as one of the following:

  • A range of IPv4 or IPv6 addresses; the default is any IPv4 address (0.0.0.0/0)
  • Other instances in your VPC network identified by network tags
  • Other instances in your VPC network identified by service account
  • Other instances in your VPC network identified by range of IPv4 or IPv6 address and by network tag
  • Other instances in your VPC network identified by range of IPv4 or IPv6 addresses and by service account

The default source is any IPv4 address (0.0.0.0/0). If you want to control incoming connections for sources outside your VPC network, including other sources on the internet, use a range of IP addresses in CIDR format.

Ingress rules with an allow action permit incoming traffic based on the other components of the rule. In addition to specifying the source and target for the rule, you can limit the rule to apply to specific protocols and destination ports. Similarly, ingress rules with a deny action can be used to protect instances by blocking incoming traffic based on the firewall rule components.

Ingress examples

The following diagram illustrates some examples where firewall rules can control ingress connections. The examples use the target parameter in rule assignments to apply rules to specific instances.

Ingress firewall rules example (click to enlarge)
Ingress firewall rules example (click to enlarge)
  • An ingress rule with priority 1000 is applicable to VM 1. This rule allows incoming TCP traffic from any IPv4 source (0.0.0.0/0). TCP traffic from other instances in the VPC network is allowed, subject to applicable egress rules for those other instances. VM 4 is able to communicate with VM 1 over TCP because VM 4 has no egress rule blocking such communication (only the implied allow egress rule is applicable). Because VM 1 has an external IP, this rule also permits incoming TCP traffic from external hosts on the internet and from VM 2 via external IP addresses.

  • VM 2 has no specified ingress firewall rule, so the implied deny ingress rule blocks all incoming traffic. Connections from other instances in the network are blocked, regardless of egress rules for the other instances. Because VM 2 has an external IP, there is a path to it from external hosts on the internet, but the implied deny ingress rule blocks external incoming traffic as well.

  • An ingress rule with priority 1000 is applicable to VM 3. This rule allows TCP traffic from instances in the network with the network tag client, such as VM 4. TCP traffic from VM 4 to VM 3 is allowed because VM 4 has no egress rule blocking such communication (only the implied allow egress rule is applicable). Because VM 3 does not have an external IP, there is no path to it from external hosts on the internet.

Egress cases

Egress firewall rules control outgoing connections from target instances in your VPC network. Egress rules with an allow action permit traffic from instances based on the other components of the rule. For example, you can permit outbound traffic to specific destinations, such as a range of IPv4 addresses, on protocols and destination ports that you specify. Similarly, egress rules with a deny action block traffic based on the other components of the rule.

Every egress rule needs a destination. The default destination is any IPv4 address (0.0.0.0/0), but you can create a more specific destination by using a range of IPv4 or IPv6 addresses in CIDR format. When specifying a range of IP addresses, you can control traffic to instances in your network and to destinations outside your network, including destinations on the internet.

Egress examples

The following diagram illustrates some examples where firewall rules can control egress connections. The examples use the target parameter in rule assignments to apply rules to specific instances.

Egress firewall rules example (click to enlarge)
Egress firewall rules example (click to enlarge)
  • VM 1 has no specified egress firewall rule, so the implied allow egress rule lets it send traffic to any destination. Connections to other instances in the VPC network are allowed, subject to applicable ingress rules for those other instances. VM 1 is able to send traffic to VM 4 because VM 4 has an ingress rule allowing incoming traffic from any IP address range. Because VM 1 has an external IP address, it is able to send traffic to external hosts on the internet. Incoming responses to traffic sent by VM 1 are allowed because firewall rules are stateful.

  • An egress rule with priority 1000 is applicable to VM 2. This rule denies all outgoing traffic to all IPv4 destinations (0.0.0.0/0). Outgoing traffic to other instances in the VPC network is blocked, regardless of the ingress rules applied to the other instances. Even though VM 2 has an external IP address, this firewall rule blocks its outgoing traffic to external hosts on the internet.

  • An egress rule with priority 1000 is applicable to VM 3. This rule blocks its outgoing TCP traffic to any destination in the 192.168.1.0/24 IP range. Even though ingress rules for VM 4 permit all incoming traffic, VM 3 cannot send TCP traffic to VM 4. However, VM 3 is free to send UDP traffic to VM 4 because the egress rule only applies to the TCP protocol.

    Also, VM 3 can send any traffic to other instances in the VPC network outside the 192.168.1.0/24 IP range, as long as those other instances have ingress rules to permit such traffic. Because it does not have an external IP address, it has no path to send traffic outside the VPC network.

What's next

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