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Asterisk Configuration behind NAT

Asterisk Configuration behind NAT

Our network is becoming rather complicated and I am sort of paranoid and I wanted to have our Asterisk server locked away where it cannot do much harm... in a VM :-). The first time I tried to do this it did not work so well and I had a large number of other tasks to get done. When I had some time I spent some of it making the bloody thing work.

Important Ports are those used for signaling (in my case I make sure ports 5060 to 5063 actually reach the VM, in most cases though only 5060 is required, even when you have lots of SIP accounts) also the RTP ports are very important otherwise you will be able to connect but you will not be able to hear the other party (even if they can hear you).

Find out your RTP Ports

Your RTP port settings are in /etc/asterisk/rtp.conf, this is mine:

; RTP start and RTP end configure start and end addresses
; Defaults are rtpstart=5000 and rtpend=31000

Make sure you know the internal IP of your Asterisk box mine is The following rules allow the Asterisk box to send UDP packets to the internet, the source address will be changed from to the external IP address of your router.

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING --proto udp --dport 5060:5063 -j DNAT --to
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING --proto udp --dport 10000:20000 -j DNAT --to
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING --proto udp --src -j MASQUERADE

Important Extra Information: the configuration does not work if your configuration calls for traffic to be routed in your subnet via the server that is NATing traffic between your local network and the internet. The setup at my workplace is like this and I need to route traffic between 192.168.10.x and 192.168.30.x (and even places on the VPN which is another story) so you should make the rules above a little more restrictive if you want your configuration to function properly.

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING --dst --proto udp --dport 5060:5063 -j DNAT --to
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING --dst --proto udp --dport 10000:20000 -j DNAT --to
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING --proto udp --src -j MASQUERADE

You will see that I have added a simple extra requirement so that the netfilter subsystem in the Linux kernel will check that the packet is destined for the internet facing IP address before mangling it and sending it on to the Asterisk server. In the case that the machine should forward the packets, for example they came from a 192.168.10.x address and are destined for a 192.168.30.x, the packet will be forwarded as normal. To achieve the same effect you could add an interface rule instead, please see the iptables howto for more information on this.

Packets being routed

This is a graphical illustration of how the packets will be routed through the network, as you can see the green packets are internet bound and have been mangled by the nat. For the green packets the Asterisk server is acting as a back-to-back user agent and will perform a task known as "native bridging" this means that it will repeat the RTP packets that come in from the internet to the user agent (the telephone). The user agent will send packets back to Asterisk which will send them back out over the internet. The blue packets are simply routed and are not mangled by the router. Asterisk does not have to act as a back-to-back user agent for and (the blue packets) because packets can be routed between these user agents.

Configure your Firewall

Next up: Configure your firewall so that these packets are not dropped. these rules are only required if your firewall policy is DROP or REJECT.

iptables -t filter -L
iptables -t filter -A FORWARD --proto udp --dport 5060:5063 -j ACCEPT
iptables -t filter -A FORWARD --proto udp --dport 10000:20000 -j ACCEPT

Please see my page on iptables for more information on setting firewall rules.

Configuring Asterisk

The important thing about the Asterisk configuration is making sure that it knows the destinations that will simply be routed or are immediately available on your local ethernet network) and those addresses that will be NATed. SIP signaling packets are the cause of the problem here, these packets have contain addresses and the Asterisk server will use the address assigned to the machine (in my case this address is which, naturally, will not go well if my SIP provider tries to send RTP packets to that address.

The important options are configured in sip.conf.


Local net is where all your phones are... or all the phones that will use addresses that can be routed. I could have put but if I did that I would not be able to connect softphones from the laptops on the network.

network layout

That is it, now all SIP packets whose destination begins with 192.168. will contain local addresses and all packets that do not begin with 192.168. will contain the address defined in externip meaning you can talk with your SIP provider over the internet and also with clients locally or on your VPN.

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