November Workshop: Running a Network-wide Ad-blocker, and a Whole Lot More!

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Written By Nick Kavadias

CryptoAUSTRALIA have an upcoming workshop on setting up a network-wide ad blocker called Pi-hole. Nick Kavadias from the CryptoAUSTRALIA team explains why you need it and why it’s a whole lot more than just another ad-blocker browser plugin.

On 15 November 2017, CryptoAUSTRALIA is holding a workshop in Sydney on how to get a network-based ad blocker called Pi-hole up and running on your home network. Pi-hole can be configured to run on a PC with any modern Linux distribution, but we’ll be focusing on getting it working on a small, ARM-based computing device called a Raspberry Pi (RPi), which costs about $100.

You may ask, why should I go to the trouble of running a dedicated network device to block ads? I run uBlockPrivacy BadgerNoScript, or AdBlock Plus and have an anti-virus subscription. Do I really need this? YES, absolutely!

The reality is you probably do not or cannot run anti-virus on all your computing devices, like your Smart TV, and not all devices support browser plug-ins. If you’re like me and have kids, they get all the hand-me-down smartphones which don’t even support the latest Android/iOS security patches, let alone have support for ad blockers, and even devices which do, it’s just not possible to block many ads built into apps.

Our workshop will cater for people from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities:

If don’t know much about RPi, but still want to get your hands dirty. (Bring your laptop! We will make a working Pi-hole virtual machine available and we’ll also bring along our own device so you can see what it’s all about.)

If you own a RPi and want to bring it along to configure. (We recommend you bring a new SD/micro SD card which is at least 2GB in size, so you don’t destroy your current RPi setup.)

If you want to learn how to run Pi-hole on your home network to block ads, malware, viruses, command and control servers, and phishing attacks, then this workshop is for you.

If you want to learn how to stop your kids accessing pornography, gambling and other undesirable websites on all your internet-enabled devices, then this workshop is for you.

If you want to save your precious internet bandwidth because your internet speeds suck, then this workshop is for you.

What the workshop will cover:

  • What hardware/software Pi-hole supports;
  • How Pi-hole does its magic in blackholing internet traffic;
  • How to get the latest version of Rasbian Lite up and running and install Pi-hole without ever having to plug your RPi into a monitor, keyboard, or mouse;
  • Various ‘hacks’ on running Pi-hole on your home network and get it working with your home router/ wifi access point;
  • How to manage and customise the Pi-hole block lists and other advanced DNS configurations; and
  • How to run Pi-hole away from your home network.

If you do not own a RPi, but are keen on getting one before the workshop, our friends at Little Bird Electronics, who are official resellers of Raspberry Pi in Australia and based in Sydney, have provided us with a discount code to use on their online store until the end of November. The code is 10OFFLBENote: The code does not apply to Raspberry Pi Zero or Raspberry Pi Zero W – these devices can run Pi-hole, but require the purchase of a separate USB Ethernet dongle.

We recommend you purchase either a Raspberry Pi 3 Beginners Kit, or if you’re looking for a barebones setup, then get yourself a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B and a case. You’ll also need to find an old microSD card which is at least 2 GB and a micro USB cable/wall charger.

You can sign-up to the workshop on our Meetup page (Quick, limited spaces!):

If you are interested in other privacy focused Raspberry Pi projects, check out our article from earlier here

See you at the workshop!!