Why you need a VPN and how to install one

What’s a VPN

A VPN is a tunnel, an encrypted one. Every request you made on your computer goes in that tunnel, fully encrypted. The exit of the tunnel is on the server where you setup the VPN, the server decrypts the request and send it to the website. Then, when the website responds to you, the server puts the response in the same tunnel and your computer decrypt it so you can see it as you do with a normal Internet connection. A VPN is just a way to create “wormhole” in the Internet, a tunnel where all infos are private.

Why you need a VPN

We all need a VPN, not because we’re all hackers (with hoodies), but because we all spend time outside with a laptop, or a phone. We all connect to unknown public wifi. These wifi are shared with strangers, and you don’t want to trust strangers.

No, you don’t.

Especially when it’s about your bank account, your facebook account, or whatever personal stuff that you check on the Internet while being outside.

Because, yes, when you connect to public wifi, like in your coworking space, in a McDonald’s, an airport etc… EVERY people connected to that particular network can sniff ALL the traffic. It means, that, if the traffic is in clear (HTTP without the S, i.e. not with the green icon), EVERY stranger on the same wifi as you can basically see what you do on your laptop.

And that’s sucks, big time!

With a VPN, someone who would spy your connection will only see a wormhole, with all the data encrypted.

PS: Where you’re home, there is no stranger on your wifi (usually), but all your traffic is visible by your ISP, which can be also an issue.

Why you need your OWN VPN

There is a lot of commercial VPN out here, even free ones. But you don’t want them

if it’s free it’s because you are the product.

VPN makes no exception here. If the VPN is free, I’m pretty sure someone is analyzing what’s come out of the tunnel. Maybe for marketing, maybe because they want your credentials, maybe they resell your identity… But either way, you don’t want it!

Some of the paid VPN are good, but if you know just a bit of server administration you really should consider making your own. Because it’s EASY

Setup your VPN server

OpenVPN is an opensource software, you can install it on any Linux server and you can find a client for Linux, MacOs, windows, Android and IOs.

Back in 2010 it was a pain to install, you had to fight with Linux network interfaces but nowadays it’s really easy! You just need to know how to connect to a server with ssh.

First you need a server

Yes, you need a server to install your own VPN. Don’t panic you can find a VPS (virtual server) for a few bucks by Amazon, OVH or virmach. Choose the smallest one, you don’t need any compute performance or memory to run a VPN, even the $1 version of the Virmach VPN can do the job. Then install a basic Debian/Ubuntu/CentOs on it

Run a script

I told you it’s easy to setup an OpenVpn, check it out: Just run this in your terminal:

wget https://git.io/vpn -O openvpn-install.sh && bash openvpn-install.sh

Follow the instructions, they will ask you some basics info and you’re good!

Connect to the server

At the end of the script, you should have given a name for the client (it’s client.opvpn by default and it should be located in /root.

Just copy it with scp to your local machine and use it to connect to your VPN server.

I use MacOSX, so I connect with Tunnelblick, but there is plenty of alternatives for Linux/Windows/*BSD, just find the one you like the most! (even if you should prefer opensource software for this kind of security matters)

So, just drag & drop your file into the tunnelblick icon, wait 30 sec and VOILA. You should be connected to your own VPN. If you want to double check, just open https://www.whatsmyip.org/, you should see the IP of your server!

Now you can enjoy your own privacy wormhole in the Internet, Enjoy!