I have been working on a project for the last few months where I wanted to configure a VPN server on a Raspberry Pi. I have been searching around for guides and looking at the different open source projects for ideas but I did not find anything that exactly fit my needs. So I decided to create this blog post and hopefully it will help someone in the future.
What Is A VPN Server?
A VPN server is a device or software that provides secure and private network access to individual users or groups. A VPN server is generally used when a person or business needs to do some network activity that they don’t want anyone to see. For example, if you are connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot at a coffee shop, you don’t want anyone else to be able to see what you are doing because they could potentially capture and log your data. Or if you are a business traveler and you don’t want someone listening in on your business calls, you can use a VPN server to make calls without being seen by potential listeners anywhere near you.
There are a few different types of VPN servers:
- OpenVPN (this blog post)
- L2TP/IPSec (most common)
- IPSec w/SRTP
- IKEv2/IPV6 (newest and most secure)
You can run any of these servers on a Raspberry Pi with the help of a few open source projects. If you decide to go with OpenVPN, you will need to download and install the open source package on your Pi. You can use the Raspberry Pi Zero W as it has the necessary onboard hardware to run OpenVPN.
Setting Up A VPN Server: General Guidelines
Before you start configuring your VPN server, you should read through the general guidelines for setting one up. This guide will help you choose the right location for your server, decide on the right amount of security and performance for your needs, and provide you with a basic idea of how to manage and monitor your server.
Choose The Right Location
If you are located in an office or home office, there are a few different places that you can install your VPN server. In most cases, the preferred location is a physically secure and trusted location that is far away from major wireless networks and Internet service providers. For example, if you work from home and need secure access to networks and Internet services, you can set up a VPN server on your home network. But you should make sure that this location is far removed from any network-connected devices such as laptops, tablet computers, and smart phones. Installing a VPN server on any of these devices could potentially make them vulnerable to attack because they could be used to gain access to your accounts on other services such as Twitter or Facebook.
If you are still using a physical connection for broadband Internet access at home (most people are these days), you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) application such as VPN Client from Jeeva to connect to a nearby and trusted VPN server when you need to access a secure network or the Internet. Installing and using a VPN client is much easier than setting up and administering a VPN server directly on your network. Most VPN clients will automatically connect to a nearby VPN server when you need online security.
Decide On The Right Amount Of Security
The first step is to decide on the right amount of security for your VPN server. This involves considering several factors including the amount of traffic that you will be generating, the type of device(s) that you will be using, and the level of protection that you need. For example, if you are connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, it is generally a good idea to use a more secure and trusted VPN provider because people will be connecting to your network to get some work done or to browse the Internet. But if you are just running a personal VPN server for your own use, you can safely use a less secure VPN provider. In most cases, a 256-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate issued by a reputable, top-level certificate authority should be sufficient for encrypting all the traffic that passes through your device.
Choose A Trusted And Reliable VPN Provider
The next step is to choose a trusted and reliable VPN provider. There are many reasons why you should consider using a reputable and trusted VPN provider. First of all, if you have your own VPN server, you can ensure that your account is safe from potential hackers by ensuring that your VPN provider is committed to protecting your privacy and has implemented strong security measures. You also need to ensure that the VPN provider has good reviews and is a company that you can trust. Last but not least, you should look for a VPN provider that offers good value for money. As a general rule of thumb, the bigger the better when it comes to VPN providers because they usually offer more premium services for the same price as a smaller company. You should avoid VPN providers that are located in countries with strict government regulations regarding cyber-security or privacy because, in most cases, these rules do not apply to companies operating in other countries.
Create User Accounts For Each Person That Will Need Access To Your VPN Connection
It is a very good practice to create user accounts for each person that will need access to your VPN server. This involves limiting the number of times that a hacker or someone with malicious intent can use your server without being detected. When you create user accounts, you should carefully chose the passwords for each of them because if they are easy to guess or discover, then they will become useless. You should consider using a password manager to generate strong, memorable passwords that adhere to the appropriate password policy for your organization. In most cases, a static password is considered low-security and should be avoided because it makes the account very easy to hack. Instead, you should use a password generator that will come up with random and unique passwords that you can use for each user account.
Use Strong Hardening Techniques
The next step is to use strong hardening techniques to secure your VPN server. This involves taking different precautions to harden your device against potential hackers. For example, you can use specialized software to harden your Pi against attacks from malware or hackers, or you can use specialized hardware devices such as a firewall or intrusion prevention system (IPS) device. If you decide to use a VPN client to connect to a nearby and trusted VPN server, you can use the VPN client to secure your Pi while you are at work by using the VPN server’s secured infrastructure to encrypt all the data that you send over the Internet to prevent network attacks and interference.
Secure Your Server’s Operating System And Applications
The last step is to secure your VPN server’s operating system and applications. This involves taking additional steps to protect your device and its data from malware, spyware, and cyber attacks. You can enable the Pi’s “secure boot” mode which will cause your device to enter a special mode where only vetted software can be installed and executed. You can also select only the most recent and trusted versions of your device’s operating system and applications from the software repository. You can use a package manager such as YUMI or Apt-get to ensure that all the necessary software for your VPN server is up to date and installed properly on your Pi.
Once you have followed the guidelines discussed here, you can start configuring your VPN server. First of all, you should make sure that your server’s operating system and applications are up to date by following the instructions in the README files located in the projects’ source code directories. Make sure to review and follow the general guidelines for setting up a VPN server which can be found at https://www.purevpn.com/setup.
Once this is done, you can download and install the open source OpenVPN project from https://www.openvpn.com/download/ to your Raspberry Pi. Make sure to unzip the downloaded package and follow the directions to install it. If everything is set up properly, you can start configuring your VPN server by visiting https://www.purevpn.com/setup/ and following the instructions.