Creating ACL entries in Wireshark

By stretch | Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 7:36 a.m. UTC

Wireshark is an awesome tool, and it seems like every time I use it I discover another little nugget of awesomeness. In this case, it was Wireshark's ability to generate ACL and firewall entries on the fly from a captured packet.

Let's assume we've captured some unauthorized traffic traversing the firewall: an IRC sesion. We can examine the capture with Wireshark to confirm that the traffic should be denied by the security policy, and automatically generate an ACL entry (ACE) to match the appropriate packets. First, select one of the packets from the suspect session:


Then, navigate to Tools > Firewall ACL Rules.


Wireshark supports several types of syntax, including Cisco IOS standard and extended ACLs, IP Filter, IPFirewall, Net Filter, Packet Filter, and Windows Firewall. Selecting Cisco IOS (extended) offers several levels of granularity: we can filter the source or destination host, TCP port, or both. Additionally, we can toggle the Inbound switch to swap source and destination addresses, and the Deny switch to toggle between permit and deny actions.


The generated syntax can then be copied and pasted directly into an ACL.

While veteran engineers may find this little more than a convenience feature, it can be an excellent learning tool for students to experiment with creating ACEs to match real-world traffic.

About the Author

Jeremy Stretch is a network engineer living in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area. He is known for his blog and cheat sheets here at Packet Life. You can reach him by email or follow him on Twitter.

Posted in Tips and Tricks


felix001 (guest)
October 29, 2009 at 9:05 a.m. UTC

Nice article... i never looked into this feature but the IPtables options is pretty cool...

Marc Poljak (guest)
October 29, 2009 at 9:23 a.m. UTC

Very cool!

October 29, 2009 at 12:58 p.m. UTC

Cool. Always look forward to reading your articles.

October 29, 2009 at 1:02 p.m. UTC

That is pretty cool.

Aaron (guest)
October 29, 2009 at 1:43 p.m. UTC

While my old-school manner dictates that I do it by hand, I have used this feature to show non-network people some of the innards of ACLEs; it helps them understand why I tell them to provide IP addresses, protocols, and ports when requesting access through a firewall or router.

Great article!

shivlu jain (guest)
October 31, 2009 at 1:20 a.m. UTC

really a nice article.

regards shivlu jain

November 2, 2009 at 2:47 a.m. UTC

Great article! This is a very cool feature...

Jon Langton (guest)
November 5, 2009 at 4:41 p.m. UTC

Using Wireshark 1.0.7 on Ubuntu 9.04, this feature can be found in the Analyize>Firewall ACL Rules. Nice feature especially when writing IPtables rules or pf rules since I don't write these rules as often as router ACLs or firewall ACLs.

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