Algo VPN is a set of Ansible scripts that simplify the setup of a personal IPSEC VPN. It uses the most secure defaults available, works with common cloud providers, and does not require client software on most devices. See our release announcement for more information.
- Supports only IKEv2 with strong crypto: AES-GCM, SHA2, and P-256
- Generates Apple profiles to auto-configure iOS and macOS devices
- Includes a helper script to add and remove users
- Blocks ads with a local DNS resolver (optional)
- Sets up limited SSH users for tunneling traffic (optional)
- Based on current versions of Ubuntu and strongSwan
- Installs to DigitalOcean, Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine, or your own server
- Does not support legacy cipher suites or protocols like L2TP, IKEv1, or RSA
- Does not install Tor, OpenVPN, or other risky servers
- Does not depend on the security of TLS
- Does not require client software on most platforms
- Does not claim to provide anonymity or censorship avoidance
- Does not claim to protect you from the FSB, MSS), DGSE, or FSM
Deploy the Algo Server
The easiest way to get an Algo server running is to let it set up a new virtual machine in the cloud for you.
Download Algo. Unzip it in a convenient location on your local machine.
Install Algo's core dependencies. Open the Terminal. The
pythoninterpreter you use to deploy Algo must be python2. If you don't know what this means, you're probably fine.
algo-masterdirectory where you unzipped Algo, then run:
$ python -m ensurepip --user $ python -m pip install --user --upgrade virtualenv
- Linux (deb-based):
$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install \ build-essential \ libssl-dev \ libffi-dev \ python-dev \ python-pip \ python-setuptools \ python-virtualenv -y
Install Algo's remaining dependencies. Use the same Terminal window as the previous step and run:
$ python -m virtualenv env && source env/bin/activate && python -m pip install -U pip && python -m pip install -r requirements.txt
On macOS, you may be prompted to install
cc. You should press accept if so.
List the users to create. Open
config.cfgin your favorite text editor. Specify the users you wish to create in the
Start the deployment. Return to your terminal. In the Algo directory, run
./algoand follow the instructions. There are several optional features available. None are required for a fully functional VPN server. These optional features are described in greater detail in deploy-from-ansible.md.
That's it! You will get the message below when the server deployment process completes. You now have an Algo server on the internet. Take note of the p12 (user certificate) password in case you need it later.
You can now setup clients to connect it, e.g. your iPhone or laptop. Proceed to Configure the VPN Clients below.
"\"#----------------------------------------------------------------------#\"", "\"# Congratulations! #\"", "\"# Your Algo server is running. #\"", "\"# Config files and certificates are in the ./configs/ directory. #\"", "\"# Go to https://whoer.net/ after connecting #\"", "\"# and ensure that all your traffic passes through the VPN. #\"", "\"# Local DNS resolver 172.16.0.1 #\"", "\"# The p12 and SSH keys password is XXXXXXXX #\"", "\"#----------------------------------------------------------------------#\"",
Configure the VPN Clients
Certificates and configuration files that users will need are placed in the
configs directory. Make sure to secure these files since many contain private keys. All files are saved under a subdirectory named with the IP address of your new Algo VPN server.
Send users their Apple Profile. Find the corresponding mobileconfig (Apple Profile) for each user and send it to them over AirDrop or other secure means. Apple Configuration Profiles are all-in-one configuration files for iOS and macOS devices. On macOS, double-clicking a profile to install it will fully configure the VPN. On iOS, users are prompted to install the profile as soon as the AirDrop is accepted.
Turn on the VPN. On iOS, connect to the VPN by opening Settings and clicking the toggle next to "VPN" near the top of the list. On macOS, connect to the VPN by opening System Preferences -> Network, finding Algo VPN in the left column and clicking "Connect." On macOS, check "Show VPN status in menu bar" to easily connect and disconnect from the menu bar.
Managing On-Demand VPNs. If you enabled "On Demand", the VPN will connect automatically whenever it is able. On iOS, you can turn off "On Demand" by clicking the (i) next to the entry for Algo VPN and toggling off "Connect On Demand." On macOS, you can turn off "On Demand" by opening the Network Preferences, finding Algo VPN in the left column, and unchecking the box for "Connect on demand."
No version of Android supports IKEv2. Install the strongSwan VPN Client for Android 4 and newer. Import the corresponding user.p12 certificate to your device. See the Android setup instructions for more a more detailed walkthrough.
Windows clients have a more complicated setup than most others. Follow the steps below to set one up:
- Copy the CA certificate (
cacert.pem), user certificate (
$user.p12), and the user PowerShell script (
windows_$user.ps1) to the client computer.
- Import the CA certificate to the local machine Trusted Root certificate store.
- Open PowerShell as Administrator. Navigate to your copied files.
- If you haven't already, you will need to change the Execution Policy to allow unsigned scripts to run.
Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted -Scope CurrentUser
- In the same PowerShell window, run the included PowerShell script to import the user certificate, set up a VPN connection, and activate stronger ciphers on it.
- After you execute the user script, set the Execution Policy back before you close the PowerShell window.
Set-ExecutionPolicy Restricted -Scope CurrentUser
Your VPN is now installed and ready to use.
If you want to perform these steps by hand, you will need to import the user certificate to the Personal certificate store, add an IKEv2 connection in the network settings, then activate stronger ciphers on it via the following PowerShell script:
Set-VpnConnectionIPsecConfiguration -ConnectionName "Algo" -AuthenticationTransformConstants GCMAES128 -CipherTransformConstants GCMAES128 -EncryptionMethod AES128 -IntegrityCheckMethod SHA384 -DHGroup ECP256 -PfsGroup ECP256
Linux Network Manager Clients (e.g., Ubuntu, Debian, or Fedora Desktop)
Network Manager does not support AES-GCM. In order to support Linux Desktop clients, choose the "compatible" cryptography during the deploy process and use at least Network Manager 1.4.1. See Issue #263 for more information.
Linux strongSwan Clients (e.g., OpenWRT, Ubuntu Server, etc.)
Install strongSwan, then copy the included ipsec_user.conf, ipsec_user.secrets, user.crt (user certificate), and user.key (private key) files to your client device. These will require customization based on your exact use case. These files were originally generated with a point-to-point OpenWRT-based VPN in mind.
Ubuntu Server 16.04 example
sudo apt-get install strongswan strongswan-plugin-openssl: install strongSwan
/etc/ipsec.secrets: add your
user.keyto the list, e.g.
<server_ip> : ECDSA <name>.key
/etc/ipsec.conf: add the connection from
sudo ipsec restart: pick up config changes
sudo ipsec up <conn-name>: start the ipsec tunnel
sudo ipsec down <conn-name>: shutdown the ipsec tunnel
One common use case is to let your server access your local LAN without going through the VPN. Set up a passthrough connection by adding the following to
conn lan-passthrough leftsubnet=192.168.1.1/24 # Replace with your LAN subnet rightsubnet=192.168.1.1/24 # Replac with your LAND subnet authby=never # No authentication necessary type=pass # passthrough auto=route # no need to ipsec up lan-passthrough
Depending on the platform, you may need one or multiple of the following files.
- cacert.pem: CA Certificate
- user.mobileconfig: Apple Profile
- user.p12: User Certificate and Private Key (in PKCS#12 format)
- user.sswan: Android strongSwan Profile
- ipsec_user.conf: strongSwan client configuration
- ipsec_user.secrets: strongSwan client configuration
- windows_user.ps1: Powershell script to help setup a VPN connection on Windows
Setup an SSH Tunnel
If you turned on the optional SSH tunneling role, then local user accounts will be created for each user in
config.cfg and SSH authorized_key files for them will be in the
configs directory (user.ssh.pem). SSH user accounts do not have shell access, cannot authenticate with a password, and only have limited tunneling options (e.g.,
ssh -N is required). This ensures that SSH users have the least access required to setup a tunnel and can perform no other actions on the Algo server.
Use the example command below to start an SSH tunnel by replacing
ip with your own. Once the tunnel is setup, you can configure a browser or other application to use 127.0.0.1:1080 as a SOCKS proxy to route traffic through the Algo server.
ssh -D 127.0.0.1:1080 -f -q -C -N user@ip -i configs/ip_user.ssh.pem
SSH into Algo Server
To SSH into the Algo server for administrative purposes you can use the example command below by replacing
ip with your own:
ssh ubuntu@ip -i ~/.ssh/algo.pem
If you find yourself regularly logging into Algo then it will be useful to load your Algo ssh key automatically. Add the following snippet to the bottom of
~/.bash_profile to add it to your shell environment permanently.
ssh-add ~/.ssh/algo > /dev/null 2>&1
Adding or Removing Users
If you chose the save the CA certificate during the deploy process, then Algo's own scripts can easily add and remove users from the VPN server.
- Update the
userslist in your
- Open a terminal,
cdto the algo directory, and activate the virtual environment with
- Run the command:
After this process completes, the Algo VPN server will contains only the users listed in the
- Setup instructions
- Client setup
- Cloud setup
- Configure Azure
- Advanced Deployment
I've been ranting about the sorry state of VPN svcs for so long, probably about
time to give a proper talk on the subject. TL;DR: use Algo.
-- Kenn White
Before picking a VPN provider/app, make sure you do some research
https://research.csiro.au/ng/wp-content/uploads/sites/106/2016/08/paper-1.pdf ... – or consider Algo
-- The Register
Algo is really easy and secure.
-- the grugq
I played around with Algo VPN, a set of scripts that let you set up a VPN in the cloud in very little time, even if you don’t know much about development. I’ve got to say that I was quite impressed with Trail of Bits’ approach.
If you’re uncomfortable shelling out the cash to an anonymous, random VPN provider, this is the best solution.
Support Algo VPN
All donations support continued development. Thanks!