The REJECT target works basically the same as the DROP target, but it also sends back an error message to the host sending the packet that was blocked. The REJECT target is as of today only valid in the INPUT, FORWARD and OUTPUT chains or their sub chains. After all, these would be the only chains in which it would make any sense to put this target. Note that all chains that use the REJECT target may only be called by the INPUT, FORWARD, and OUTPUT chains, else they won't work. There is currently only one option which controls the nature of how this target works, though this may in turn take a huge set of variables. Most of them are fairly easy to understand, if you have a basic knowledge of TCP/IP.
Table 11-14. REJECT target options
|iptables -A FORWARD -p TCP --dport 22 -j REJECT --reject-with tcp-reset
|This option tells the REJECT target what response to send to the host that sent the packet that we are rejecting. Once we get a packet that matches a rule in which we have specified this target, our host will first of all send the associated reply, and the packet will then be dropped dead, just as the DROP target would drop it. The following reject types are currently valid: icmp-net-unreachable, icmp-host-unreachable, icmp-port-unreachable, icmp-proto-unreachable, icmp-net-prohibited and icmp-host-prohibited. The default error message is to send a port-unreachable to the host. All of the above are ICMP error messages and may be set as you wish. You can find further information on their various purposes in the appendix ICMP types. Finally, there is one more option called tcp-reset, which may only be used together with the TCP protocol. The tcp-reset option will tell REJECT to send a TCP RST packet in reply to the sending host. TCP RST packets are used to close open TCP connections gracefully. For more information about the TCP RST read RFC 793 - Transmission Control Protocol. As stated in the iptables man page, this is mainly useful for blocking ident probes which frequently occur when sending mail to broken mail hosts, that won't otherwise accept your mail.
Works under Linux kernel 2.3, 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6.