I am going to share with everyone what I consider to be one of the greatest discoveries I have ever stumbled onto. Whenever the first thought comes to mind about hacking, there should ALWAYS be one thing you make sure to take care of before acting on that thought. Security. Anonymity. Secrecy. These are an absolute must. I feel that security is one of the most commonly overlooked factors when thinking of hacking (a very broad term btw). Think of it this way... How good is the cat burglar who left muddy footprints at the scene of a crime? How sneaky is the child that says "It wasn't me" with chocolate on his face? I know, pretty lame metaphors there, but I think you get the point. Had the cat burglar secured himself with, for instance, plastic bags tied around his feet; had the child secured himself by eliminating the evidence entirely; both scenarios could have been executed successfully had they had security in mind prior to acting on that first thought.
This tutorial is about making yourself more secure than the average "hacker" while doing anything online. I'm sure that if you've made it this far then you've at least heard the acronyms VPN and VPS. If not well then your best friend Google is but a click away! Not really :P but I really would advise you to at least look up what each of they stand for before continuing onward.
You are being tracked. Period. Every day, every night, every Snapchat, every Tweet, everywhere and anywhere. Lookup Las Vegas Street Lamps if you want a quick eye opener. The truth of the matter is that privacy and security in today's society is laughable at best when it comes to the government and other related authoritative figures. Don't be the fool that thinks "well I use (insert generic VPN name here) so they'll never catch me B) " because that's going to get you caught up at some point and it's not gonna be cool for you and anyone else involved. Only fools get caught. Don't be a fool ;)
Some basic VPN-based Google searches will provide you with the plethora of available services out there today, summed up into two basic categories: free and paid. Of course one can argue that a paid VPN must be better than the free VPN. Well I'm here to tell you that you are wrong my friend. When it comes to a TRULY secure VPN what you need to consider are "logs". Logs are what get people caught. If you use a VPN, go to the suppliers main site and take a look at their privacy T&C's. If you find anything but the following words "We do not collect logs" then ditch them and never go back. Logs are the muddy footprints and chocolate covered faces of every individual that thinks they're good to go. Logs are what get pulled up whenever the company is confronted by the officials when they're looking for you. Logs are what will lead them to your home. Don't be a fool. Don't get caught ;)
So here's what you're going to want to do if you want to create your very own VPN from scratch, and host it on a remote VPS faaaaaaar away from your current location. The result? Well still not absolute and total anonymity on the internet, but it's a good start :) The following is the combination of my own trial and error and work that I followed by Lincoln Lee. Make sure to give him credit for his guides that led me to the finished product. Please note that I am in no way associated with Lee.
Phase 1: Establish Your VPS
- Go to the following website www.interserver.net and click login at the top right. Click "Sign Up" and then fill in the details for your account. Verify the code sent to the email address you provided.
- After you make your account click Buy Now under the VPS category on the right.
- Fill out the form using these parameters EXACTLY: OpenVZ, New Jersey, 1 Slice, Ubuntu, 15.04 xrdp 64-bit, Monthly, None, No, (type whichever hostname you wish to use), (type in your desired password), and for the Coupon type in 1cent. (See Example 1 below)
- If done correctly you should see the total price go down to $0.01 for an entire month and then $6/mo after that :) I've been with them for months and the service is amazing, the VPS is cheap and quite compatible for the price! (Hint: if you give them a good rating on Google+ and then send the admin a message about it they will give you a $10 credit)
- Once you reach the main screen of your newly acquired VPS take note of the IP address they give you located at the top (for every additional IP the cost is only $1/mo)
Phase 2: Prerequisites For Your VPN
- For the next step you MUST use a Windows OS. Download puTTY (or another SSH client you prefer to use) and type in your VPS IP address as the destination under the SSH setting. If it's not already there, type in 22 as the port before clicking Connect.
- In the new screen you'll be prompted for a username and password. Type in "root" (without quotes) as the username and the password is whatever you chose during the setup.
- Congratulations you are now SSH'd into your VPS :) From here make sure to do an apt-get update && apt-get upgrade -y && apt-get install build-essential before moving forward.
- Minimize the window and let it do its thing because now you're going to open up a browser and head over to http://www.softether-download.com/en.aspx?product=softether
- From the drop-down boxes choose these EXACT settings: SoftEther VPN, SoftEther VPN Server, Linux, Intel x64 / AMD64 (64-bit). (See Example 2 below)
- The topmost link you are going to right-click>copy link location. (View Example 3 below)
- Now return to your SSH'd VPS and type the following command followed by "Enter": wget (paste the link you copied here)
Phase 3: Setting Up Your VPN On Your VPS
- To continue please head over to http://blog.lincoln.hk/blog/2013/03/19/softether-on-vps/ and follow every step until the very end. (Again, please note that I am by no means taking credit for this part of the tutorial. The only part that I have set up on my own is from Phase 1 and Phase 2, everything in Phase 3 I followed the steps given by Lincoln Lee and ALL credit goes to him for this section of the tutorial!)
- At the end of Lee's tutorial on how to set up SoftEther he gives a link where you can further the operations and create a Bridged Adapter for your VPN. I would recommend against this as the OpenVZ type VPS is not made to accommodate what is needed to make this happen. Only proceed if you REALLY know what you're doing.
Congratulations! You now have your very own VPN that YOU YOURSELF created on YOUR VERY OWN VPS. No concerns about logs! Not a dime out of your pocket (well, until after the first month that is haha)! The greatest part about all of this? Interserver allows recurring monthly charges to your PayPal account! So once you set this all up just make sure you have the $6 in your PayPal account around the same time each month and you have the cheapest, most secure VPN out there! And you even did it all by yourself :)
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT SOLELY RELYING UPON YOUR VPN IS NOT AN END-ALL SOLUTION TO INTERNET SECURITY! IN ORDER TO ENSURE THE SAFEST POSSIBLE BROWSING YOU MUST USE THIS IN COMBINATION WITH THE OTHER TOOLS IN YOUR ARSENAL! DON'T HAVE ANY? GET THEM. WHERE? BELOW
Other Tools to Add to Your Arsenal
Lookup Technitium Mac Address Changer (or just "Tmac" for short). The Windows version has a GUI that is more user friendly although there is also a CLI version available for your Linux distro of choice.
Tor Network; Despite all the whiners about the lack of security with the Tor network you should not discredit what it's there for. It is a highly usable tool and as long as you do your homework about what it DOES, and what it DOES NOT, and use it with the other things I've mentioned above, you will fail to find another resource as insane as Tor. (I guess I2P exists as well but, meh, it's not as widely used and harder to get working properly in my opinion. Feel free to look into it though!)