[plug] Safely using an untrusted router

Dirk justanothergreenguy at gmail.com
Tue Oct 20 02:51:50 UTC 2015

G'day fellow PLUG'gers,

I've been on your mailing list for a while now, and learning a little more
Linux each day, although not sure if I'd fit in with you guys, as you all
seem far more advanced in your understanding than myself.

Anyway, I'm hoping you can help.  I've had some issues with Linux Mint 17.2
often fetching package lists with incorrect hashes, among other strange
goings on.  I've confirmed these errors manually using gpg --verify and
grep'ing the hashes in the pkg list files while in a 'live OS' Linux
environment, etc etc.  Also, Gmail often says I have 2 sessions logged in
to my email from the same IP address (I don't allow any other software or
devices to access the Gmail account, except Firefox (i.e. webmail) on the
one PC).  Have had similar problem with a laptop.

I have wiped and reinstalled Mint numerous times from a trusted DVD (MD5
checksum), so I'm not sure if it's my SOHO routers playing funny games
(quite likely given how easy routers are exploited these days) or maybe I
have BIOS malware in my PC.  Doh!

I'd like to rule out my routers, and in fact I'd like to be able to use any
untrusted router (you have to assume your router is untrusted these days) -
as if my router was a public wifi hotspot.  To that end, I'd like to be
able to VPN to a local ISP (or other trusted Australian entity), to tunnel
all my traffic securely from my PC thru a suspect router to the ISP.
 (Note:  to this end, VPN functionality inside some routers is a bit
pointless IMHO).

I've spoken with Optus, iiNet, Amcom/Amnet, and Telstra, and they all seem
unaware of the value of providing such a service to their customers.  More
and more SOHO routers are getting compromised, so it could be a real
selling point (for anyone who cares about their online security) if they
provided this service.

I'd rather not VPN to a service in another country, as it only raises
suspicion (re metadata collection laws, accessing content in other
countries, etc).  All I want to do is to get past an untrusted router,
emerging unencrypted at a local trusted ISP (preferably), plain and simple.

Anyway, I'm hoping someone knows how to handle an untrusted router, and
whether a VPN tunnel would guarantee a secure connection, whether or not
there are any DNS hijacks/spoofing or any other funny games going on in the

Any help would be great!

Cheers, Dirk
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