IPTables Firewall Tables
There are currently three independent tables (which tables are present at any time depends on the kernel configuration options and which modules are present).
This is the default table (if no -t option is passed). It contains the built-in chains INPUT (for packets destined to local sockets), FORWARD (for packets being routed through the box), and OUTPUT (for locally-generated packets).
This table is consulted when a packet that creates a new connection is encountered. It consists of three built-ins: PREROUTING (for altering packets as soon as they come in), OUTPUT (for altering locally-generated packets before routing), and POSTROUTING (for altering packets as they are about to go out).
This table is used for specialized packet alteration. Until kernel 2.4.17 it had two built-in chains: PREROUTING (for altering incoming packets before routing) and OUTPUT (for altering locally-generated packets before routing). Since kernel 2.4.18, three other built-in chains are also supported INPUT (for packets coming into the box itself), FORWARD (for altering packets being routed through the box), and POSTROUTING (for altering packets as they are about to go out).
This table is used mainly for configuring exemptions from connection tracking in combination with the NOTRACK target. It registers at the netfilter hooks with higher priority and is thus called before ip_conntrack, or any other IP tables. It provides the following built-in chains: PREROUTING (for packets arriving via any network interface) OUTPUT (for packets generated by local processes)