Weekend Project: Part 3 – Installing Pi-hole

As Sunday draws to a close we can finish up this weekend project by installing Pi-hole. What is Pi-hole I hear your ask? Well copied and pasted straight from the Pi-hole website, “The Pi-hole® is a DNS sinkhole that protects your devices from unwanted content, without installing any client-side software.”

Previouly I wrote the first 2 parts of this guide on my Macbook Air, but this final post I have written on my PC, please excuse any formatting of commands between Terminal & Putty.

To begin installing Pi-hole run the below command on you rPi;

paz@raspberrypi:~ $ wget -O basic-install.sh https://install.pi-hole.net
paz@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo bash basic-install.sh

The installer is very handsoff, it preforms a bunch of checks and then installs the whole process was done in a couple of minutes. One of the questions asked by Pi-hole installer is which DNS provider you would wish to use. You can choose any at this time as we will change it to Cloudflared (DNS over HTTPS) later on. The installer also asks if you would like to install a webGUI, this is optional I choose to have the GUI as over the initial weeks I intend to see how everything is going, so having a GUI is nice rather than trawling through endless logs. Once the installer is completed take note of your Pi-hole GUI web address and admin password as we will need this to login.

Installing Cloudflared

What is DNS over HTTPS, again copied directly from the Pi-hole website to save me having to type out my own explantaion.

DNS-Over-HTTPS is a protocol for performing DNS lookups via the same protocol you use to browse the web securely: HTTPS.

With standard DNS, requests are sent in plain-text, with no method to detect tampering or misbehaviour. This means that not only can a malicous actor look at all the DNS requests you are making (and therefore what websites you are visiting), they can also tamper with the response and redirect your device to resources in their control (such as a fake login page for internet banking).

DNS-Over-HTTPS prevents this by using standard HTTPS requests to retrieve DNS information. This means that the connection from the device to the DNS server is secure and can not easily be snooped, monitored, tampered with or blocked. It is worth noting however, that the upstream DNS-Over-HTTPS provider will still have this ability.

To start installing Cloudflared we need to pull down the Cloudflared files with wget

wget https://bin.equinox.io/c/VdrWdbjqyF/cloudflared-stable-linux-arm.tgz
tar -zxf cloudflared-stable-linux-arm.tgz
sudo cp ./cloudflared /usr/local/bin
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/cloudflared

Next we will create a cloudflared user to have the cloudflared service running sepratly from our VPN on our Pi, This user will be for cloudflared only and will not have a SHELL or any login password to prevent other utalising the account.

sudo useradd -s /usr/sbin/nologin -r -M cloudflared

Next create a file in /etc/default/cloudflared and paste the below into the file;

Commandline args for cloudflared
CLOUDFLARED_OPTS=--port 5053 --upstream https://1.1.1.1/dns-query --upstream https://1.0.0.1/dns-query
CLOUDFLARED_OPTS=--port 5054 --upstream https://9.9.9.9/dns-query

Change ownership of the cloudflared files to the cloudflared user

paz@raspberrypi:/etc/default $ sudo chown cloudflared:cloudflared /etc/default/cloudflared
paz@raspberrypi:/etc/default $ sudo chown cloudflared:cloudflared /usr/local/bin/cloudflared

Create the below file in /etc/systemd/system/cloudflared.service to allow automatic startup of the cloudflared service.

[Unit]
Description=cloudflared DNS over HTTPS proxy
After=syslog.target network-online.target

[Service]
Type=simple
User=cloudflared
EnvironmentFile=/etc/default/cloudflared
ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/cloudflared proxy-dns $CLOUDFLARED_OPTS
Restart=on-failure
RestartSec=10
KillMode=process

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Once the file has been created as per above, enable cloudflared in systemctl

paz@raspberrypi:/etc/default $ sudo systemctl enable cloudflared
Created symlink /etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/cloudflared.service → /etc/systemd/system/cloudflared.service.
paz@raspberrypi:/etc/default $ sudo systemctl start cloudflared
paz@raspberrypi:/etc/default $ sudo systemctl status cloudflared
● cloudflared.service - cloudflared DNS over HTTPS proxy
Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/cloudflared.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
Active: active (running) since Sun 2020-01-26 09:34:51 GMT; 3s ago

Test the service is functioning as expected, you should recieve a response from bbc.co.uk similar to the below;

paz@raspberrypi:/etc/default $ dig @127.0.0.1 -p 5053 bbc.co.uk

; <<>> DiG 9.11.5-P4-5.1-Raspbian <<>> @127.0.0.1 -p 5053 bbc.co.uk
; (1 server found)
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 12841
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 4, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 1

;; OPT PSEUDOSECTION:
; EDNS: version: 0, flags:; udp: 1452

; PAD: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ("………………….")
;; QUESTION SECTION:
;bbc.co.uk. IN A

;; ANSWER SECTION:
bbc.co.uk. 226 IN A 151.101.64.81
bbc.co.uk. 226 IN A 151.101.128.81
bbc.co.uk. 226 IN A 151.101.192.81
bbc.co.uk. 226 IN A 151.101.0.81

;; Query time: 26 msec
;; SERVER: 127.0.0.1#5053(127.0.0.1)
;; WHEN: Sun Jan 26 09:36:56 GMT 2020
;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 164

Now that we have configured Cloudflared its time to head over to the Pi-hole GUI to remove Google DNS and point to Cloudflared DNS servers. Login to your Pi-hole GUI using the username and password provided before. Once you login you should see something similar to this;

Head down to Settings then choose the DNS Tab, un-check Google DNS, add 127.0.0.1#5053 & 127.0.0.1#5054 to the Upstream DNS servers section and finally check ‘Listen on all interfaces’

Everything should now be working, you can use your Pi-hole dashboard to see hosts connected to Pi-hole, see how much has been blocked. You can test if you are using DNS-over-HTTPS here!

This brings me to the end of this weekend project, I could have rattled through all the comands myself in an afternoon, but writing these blog post added extra time. Until next time, happy surfing!

Weekend Project: Part 2 – Configuring a VPN on a Raspberry Pi

Following on from my previous post I will be setting up a VPN on my Raspberry Pi with an aim to better protect my online privacy with a VPN and Pi-hole. Having this setup will allow me to connect various household devices to the Raspberry Pi which will then pass traffic though the VPN. To allow connections we must make sure the Pi has a static IP address.

To set a static IP address we must add the address we want to the /etc/network/interfaces file on the Pi.

Add the address you wish your Pi to have in my case I chose 192.168.1.123 for gateway specify your gateway normally this is the address you us to access your router.

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static
address 192.168.1.123
netmask 255.255.255.0
gateway 192.168.1.254

Lets start getting the packages we will need to configure our VPN by running the below;

paz@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo apt install openvpn curl iptables-persistent python-requests -y

Next we will begin configuring the VPN. For my VPN provider I use PrivateVPN. They are well respeceted, reasnably priced and keep no logs what so ever.

Download PrivateVPN’s openvpn files to your Raspberry Pi with the below commands;

paz@raspberrypi:/etc/openvpn $ sudo wget https://privatevpn.com/client/install.sh
paz@raspberrypi:/etc/openvpn $ sudo su -
root@raspberrypi:~# cd /etc/openvpn
root@raspberrypi:/etc/openvpn# ./install.sh

Running install.sh prompts you for username/password and creates the a VPN connection on your Pi that can be used on your Pi.

Edit the file /etc/openvpn/privatvpn.conf with the details of the PrivateVPN exist point you wish to connect to PrivateVPN provides a script to allow you to start the VPN called privatvpn. After install this file is located at /usr/bin/privatvpn. Add this file location to /etc/rc.local which will ensure that the VPN starts on startup should your Pi reboot or require a restart.

Weekend Project: Part 1 – Securing a Raspberry Pi

Recently I dug out the old Raspberry Pi with the aim of using it as a VPN and a DNS backhole. I have always hand a handle on my privacy online but since looking up a new office chair online last week Facebook has provided me with an onslaught of ads for various office chairs, normally I brush this off tracking cookies never really bother me to much but, for some reason this got me triggered. So this weekend I will be turning my Raspberry Pi into a VPN and DNS black hole. The Raspberry Pi will sit on my home network, any devices phone’s, laptops, PC’s etc can be configured to send traffic through the Pi and then out to the internet fully encrpted.

First things first is down download the latest version of Raspbian, you can find it here : https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/

I am pretty well versed in a Linux/Unix command line and am comfertable in my Linux knowlage to know the various tools, where they are and if they are not present where to get them so, I went for the Raspian Lite image just to keep things as lean as possible.

Tip: If you plan to run your Pi as a headless server, after writing the Raspbian image to an SD Card create a file called ‘ssh’ (file can be empty) on the card to enable ssh on first boot. This used to be enabled by default but a recent change due to worries of attackers high jacking un-secure Raspberry Pi’s prompted the folks over an Pi HQ to turn SSH as default. This tip saves you having to connect a monitor, keyboard & mouse to your Pi just to turn on SSH.

First Things First

At this point I assume you have your Raspberry Pi powered on, to find you Pi’s IP address you can look up your router to see whats connected or try to ping raspberrypi.local. Once you have the IP you can ssh using Putty or Terminal with the following command;

ssh -l pi 192.168.1.141

Defualt password for pi user is raspberry

Change pi users password

At the end of this guide we will delete the pi user from the system but first things first lets change that default password. Just type the below;

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ passwd
Changing password for pi.
Current password:
New password:
Retype new password:
passwd: password updated successfully

Now that the password has been changed we will update the Pi so we are running the latest and greatest. The example below shows the command to run, although my Pi is already updated so it shows as no updates, expect this to take 10-15min download and install updates on your Pi.

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
Hit:1 http://raspbian.raspberrypi.org/raspbian buster InRelease
Hit:2 http://archive.raspberrypi.org/debian buster InRelease
Reading package lists… Done
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
Calculating upgrade… Done
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
Calculating upgrade… Done
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.

Now we have an up-to-date system lets create a new user and remove the default pi user. A new user can be created with the useradd comand. We will set a password for the new user.

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo useradd paz
pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo usermod -a -G adm,dialout,cdrom,sudo,audio,video,plugdev,games,users,input,netdev,gpio,i2c,spi paz

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo passwd paz
New password:
Retype new password:
passwd: password updated successfully
pi@raspberrypi:~ $
pi@raspberrypi:~ $ exit
logout
Connection to 192.168.1.141 closed.

Lets disconnect as the pi user and connect as our new user, in my case ‘paz’.
pazy@Andrews-Air Downloads % ssh -l paz 192.168.1.141
paz@192.168.1.141's password:
Linux raspberrypi 4.19.75-v7+ #1270 SMP Tue Sep 24 18:45:11 BST 2019 armv7l

The programs included with the Debian GNU/Linux system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Debian GNU/Linux comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent
permitted by applicable law.
paz@raspberrypi:~ $

Finally we can delete the pi user from our Raspberry Pi;

paz@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo deluser pi
Removing user pi' ... Warning: grouppi' has no more members.
Done.

paz@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo rm -rf /home/pi

We now have an up-to-date Pi and new user different to the default to connect with. To many this is enough but if your intent to connect your Pi to face the internet then you should be performing further steps to prevent attacks. On th next section we will guide you though this.

The Next Level

To secure your Raspberry Pi further we will insall fail2ban and change the defauly SSH port from 22 to something of your choosing.

Changing SSH port is simple just edit the file /etc/ssh/ssd_config, where you see the entry #Port remove the # and change the port number from the default 22 to something of your choosing. In my case I use 2222.

Once you update /etc/ssh/ssd_config you will need to restart the ssh service using the below command;

paz@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo service ssh restart

If we exit our session on our Pi and try and re-connect you will see our connection fails as we no longer have ssh running on port 22, we must use -p option to specify port at 2222.

pazy@Andrews-Air Downloads % ssh -l paz 192.168.1.141 -p 22
ssh: connect to host 192.168.1.141 port 22: Connection refused
pazy@Andrews-Air Downloads %
pazy@Andrews-Air Downloads %
pazy@Andrews-Air Downloads % ssh -l paz 192.168.1.141 -p 2222

Next we will install fail2ban. fail2ban analyses system logs for failed attempts to login to you Pi, should X number of attempts result in a fail that IP address is then banned from accessing the host. This provided pretty good protection from anyone trying to brute force thier way onto your Pi.

To install fail2ban do the following;

paz@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo apt-get install fail2ban

With fail2ban you much copy the .config file to .local as per below;

paz@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo cp /etc/fail2ban/jail.conf /etc/fail2ban/jail.local

If you wish to edit configuration for example the number of bad attempts allowed before a ban edit the jail.local file.

While the article does seem pretty long it will only take 15min or so to run through the commands. Next I will write about setting up a VPN and Pi-hole on your Pi.

Lack of Short, Story Driven Games

As a 30 year old male I find the amount of time I have for ‘gaming’ growing shorter and shorter. Its not that I don’t want to play games actually quite the opposite I would love to play more but, unfortunately life tends to get in the way.

Gone are the days of sitting for 6+ hours (some time much more back in the day ;D) and tackling the latest single player story. I look at games like The Witcher 3 now and while I own it, I just can’t dedicate time it deserves. Born in 1988 I am part of the generation where games and gaming have been part of my life since I was born. I first played my Dads Sega Master System before getting my own PS1 when it was released back in 1994. Is this why my Dad stopped gaming, he just didn’t have the time being a father, having job, husband etc.

I am constantly on the hunt for solid story based, single player games with a main storyline less that 20 hours that I can complete with only 30-40min here and there. I guess this is why we have seen this rise of the Battle Royale and MOBA genre where they provide 15-20min of high intensity, high octane gameplay allowing you to play 2-3 games/rounds and be satisfied.

With the largest demographic of gamers being 26-35 years of age surely I can’t be the only one that struggles to find time to play games while holding down a full-time job, be a husband and maintain an active social life?

If anyone is aware of short single player games let me know!

Warframe a 6 year old gift

I’ve known about Warframe for years but just never got around to giving it a go. The game first came out in 2013, any 6 year old game still being actively developed with a thriving community must be doing something right. After a dry period in my gaming catalog I finally decided to jump in and give Warframe a shot and have since racked up almost 30 hours of play.

Firstly the game is great, it runs flawlessly, looks great and plays great the next update (coming soon) brings a graphics overhaul to bring it inline with most modern day AAA titles.

You play as a Tenno (aka Space Ninja’s) a long lost race of noble warriors who one day in a world full of conflict just up-ed and left never to be seen again. Starting a new game you are given the option to play in 1 of 3 ‘frames’ each with there own unique traits and abilities. The game as of writing has over 20 unlockable frames so there is a play style to suit everyone.

Movement is a big deal in warframe and once you master the power slide, into jump, back into slide combo you with literately be flipping about the levels at blistering pace slicing up enemies left, right and centre it really is one of the best parts of the game, its so fluid and you do really get that Space Ninja feel as you glide around. With 14 planets to visit in the game each with around 10 locations the game is nothing short of massive but not necessarily demanding you are able to play very much at your own pace only clearing a few levels if that is all you have time for. The game does a good job of keeping you on the right track making sure progression doesn’t slow down.

Its a free to play game with micro transactions but thankfully its not pay to win. Everything in Warframe is fully unlockable in the game absolutely free you can pay to speed things up but it is absolutely not necessary. At is core Warframe is a farming/grinding game with the end goal to become as powerful and possible if you want a specific weapon be prepared to ‘farm’ the materials required to craft said weapon which could require running the same mission over and over until you meet the required quota.

Warframe is available to every platform at the moment so there really inst a reason you can’t play a small drawback is its not cross platform so any frames I have unlocked on my PC account won’t be available if I were to start playing on my Switch.

The upcoming expansion Warframe: Empyrean brings a graphical overhaul, space ships (fuck yea!) and a new enemy race. If there was ever a time to give Warframe a shot now is the time. If none of this has give you even the slightest inclination to play watch the intro trailer and think of the Space Ninja you could be.

Gorn 1.0 Arrives (Lamps will be broken!)

Tomorrow (18/07/19) sees Gorn the brutally hilarious VR gladiator fighting game move out of early access to version 1.0. I’ve followed the games development regularly playing while in early access for over a year and am super stoked for it to finally be released.

Its a VR only game so if you don’t own an Oculus Rift or Vive (PS VR soon!) this article is not for you. In Gorn you take the role of a Roman gladiator battling against groups of meat heads who rightly so approach you rather cautiously. Before a game beings you are presented with plethora of weapons to choose from and upon selecting your favourite you raise your hands in the air saluting Caesar to begin the fight. Don’t let the cartoonish graphics fool you this game is brutal I’ve lost count of how many hearts I’ve plucked from men’s chests with a spear or how many skulls I’ve sliced in half with the battle axe. This game comes with a massive warning, play in an open area as furniture is likely to get broken or at least smacked with flailing arms when you get overwhelmed. I took a golf swing at the free standing lamp in my living room while playing this, in game I was trying get an achievement of hitting 5 enemies out of the arena so had taken to using a 2 handed war-hammer like a 5 iron.

The game uses the pull yourself along movement system if you are familiar with VR games this most likely wont pose a challenge but can take some getting used to if you are trying VR for the first time. Depth wise Gorn has a large amount of additional weapons to unlock by defeating bosses or meeting certain kill criteria which gives the game a surprising amount of longevity. Version 1.0 brings the Crab & the “diss” track below if its anything like the rest of the game it wont be anything less than bonkers.

This game is a must for parties or introducing people to VR it comes in at £14.99 and is well worth the price for the hilarity it brings alone.

3 Games to pick up on Prime Day

Amazon Prime day is upon us. Racked with controversy as Amazon workers strike due to poor working conditions. With Prime Day ending today here are my top 3 game deals to pick up last minute from Amazon. Unfortunately with disks not really being a thing for PC gamers all of the deals featured below are for the consoles.

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

The second instalment to the Division franchise brings everything that went into making the the first game great, adding a little more magic and polishing it all up. If your in the market for a solid looter/shooter this is the one for you. Content is still actively being released so there will be no shortage of things to do while playing. The Division 2 is available on PS4, Xbox and PC on consoles as part of prime for £22.99.

Far Cry 5

I always really enjoy the Far Cry games I’ve been playing them since Far Cry 2. They look glorious and I’ll never forget burning the marijuana fields in Far Cry 3 to SKILEREX. Far Cry 5 is available on Prime Day for £16.12 not a massive saving from its usual £17.99 but hey, its 10% off at the end of the day. Available here on PS4 & Xbox.

Crash Bandicoot NSane Trilogy

Who doesn’t love a bit of nostalgia. Crash Bandicoot was the first game I ever owned myself on my PS1. This bundle comprises of all 3 titles wrapped up into one helpful package and is a great trip down memory lane, with some levels being a lot more difficult than I remember. Crash Bandicoot NSane Trilogy is available on all major title and you can pick it up on Prime Day for £19.49 here PS4, Xbox