Home network monitoring with pfSense, Protectli, and a screen scraper

Programming Snapshot – Protectli

Article from Issue 208/2018

What is making the lights on the router flicker so excitedly? An intruder? We investigate with pfSense on a Protectli micro appliance and a screen scraper to email the information.

It's a shame that no routers simply display the network packet addresses that pass through them on an LED display. Because I'm curious about what's going on in my home network, on the advice of a work colleague, I bought a micro appliance from the Chinese company Protectli (Figure 1) [1], which runs the FreeBSD-based open source firewall pfSense. The box is about four by four inches in size and passively cooled, so there is absolutely no fan or other noise.

Figure 1: The Protectli micro appliance used as a router.

The installation is a piece of cake – simply load the distribution from the pfSense Community Edition website [2] onto a bootable USB stick, insert an mSATA disk and RAM into the Protectli's small case, and after booting, say yes to the installation prompts. Badda-bing badda-boom, pfSense's web GUI is up and running (Figure 2).


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