With so many people constantly on the move, the temptation to use an open Wi-Fi network like those found in coffee shops and fast food restaurants increases daily. The problem with open networks is that although the internet connection is free, your data becomes vulnerable to hackers or people with the knowledge to steal your information right out of the air.
Simple things like checking your email, logging onto your banks website, or any other secure search on an open wireless network, sends your username and password over the air just long enough for someone who knows what they are doing, to steal your information and your identity. This is where VPN’s or Virtual Private Networks have grown in popularity over the years. They provide the user with a secure way of surfing the web.
Until now, you only had two choices when it came to secure web searches, VPN’s or Dedicated Security Appliance. VPN’s are easy to install and use. If you know how to download an app and put in a username and password, you are pretty much set. The downside to using VPN’s is the monthly service fee if you are using the paid version. The free versions while cost effective come with advertising for their service, which can get disruptive. VPN’s also do not help you to get back to your ISP, which is another downside. Dedicated Security Appliance’s requires and intermediate knowledge of computers in order to set up that method. Once set up though, the usage is relatively simple. This solution uses your very own firewall to help you achieve secure web browsing. The downside is that you would still be using your own ISP network, and it can be expensive to set up.
Another option is to build your very own VPN with DD-WRT to achieve secure web browsing. There are about four steps to this process with an important warning. Do not use your primary router for this job, as you may need to use the internet to troubleshoot problems.
1. Getting DDT-WRT
Even though you can look up online how to flash a router with DD-WRT, your router still needs to have a compatible version of DD-WRT with the VPN tab under services. If the VPN tab is not there, update the instillation. Then you will need a good power source. If your router is struggling power wise under its regular load, this will put it past the breaking point, so make sure you have a big enough power source.
2. Write down the installation process
This is extremely important and you will need four things:
a. The username and password of the router you will be using.
b. The external IP address of the router (192.168.1.300) for example.
c. The internal IP address of the router (192.168.300.1) for example.
d. Finally, you will need the internal DHCP range of the router.
3. Enabling the Virtual Private Network Servers
Even though a security flaw has caused the DD-WRT VPN servers to depreciate, and that flaw is hard to exploit, it is still a good starter VPN server. As time goes, you may want to move to an open VPN. The first step is to login and go to the “Services” tab. Next, click the “VPN” sub-tab where there will be two boxes, the “PPTP Server” and the PPTP Client. Click the “PPTP Server”. Enter the external IP address of your router in the “Server IP” box. Then, you want to enter a range of IP’s that the connecting computer will be using into the “clients IP” box (For example 192.168.300.310-320- etc.). Also, make sure to use the internal range of the router. Enter the usernames and passwords into the CHAP-Secrets section, putting each entry on a new line.
4. Enabling the Client
Each mobile client may be a bit different, but the basic principle is the same. For Android devices with Android 4.1 or higher, the steps are as follows.
o Go into configurations
o enter the “more networks” tab
o click “VPN”
o then click the “+” sign to add a VPN
o Name it
o Type in the server address
o Click save then click the connection
o Enter your username and password the click connect and you should be done.
Now that you know how to create your own VPN, surfing the web will now be a safe activity. Enjoy!