upribox 2.0

Filter Power

© Lead Image © elenabsl, 123RF.com

© Lead Image © elenabsl, 123RF.com

Article from Issue 217/2018

Upribox 2.0 acts as a router and filters both trackers and ads, saving you the annoying task of manually hardening your web browser with countless add-ons.

Dangers lurk everywhere on the Internet. The technologies used by advertisers, criminals, and public authorities, not only to harass users but to spy on them, are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Protective mechanisms and countermeasures that make life difficult for data collectors and other curious users become all the more important.

Most users, though, do not have sufficient knowledge of the many dangers that lurk on the Internet and therefore take only partially effective countermeasures. Moreover, new technologies are increasingly complicating the configuration of web browsers, routers, and firewalls. In addition to in-depth knowledge, then, you also need a huge amount of time to secure an IT infrastructure.

Austrian security specialist Markus Donko-Huber already addressed this problem in 2014 at St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences and developed upribox (usable privacy box) with a small team. Upribox is a Raspberry Pi with a specially adapted version of Raspbian. The purpose of upribox is to ensure privacy and increased security when using the Internet, without requiring a great deal of configuration effort from the user.

With the availability of the Raspberry Pi 3 (RPi3) and the new model B+ (RPi3B+), the developers around Markus Donko-Huber have revised upribox and adapted it to the additional technical possibilities of the RPi3 platforms with the version 2 software release.

Getting Started

If you are in Europe, you can buy upribox as a complete package for EUR120 from the project's web store [1]. The package includes an RPi3 in a curved case, a sufficiently large external power supply, an Ethernet cable for connection to your home router, and a memory card with the operating system. If you already own an RPi3, just download the upribox operating system from the project's GitHub page and install it on a microSD card [2] as you would any Raspbian distribution.

The 800MB software archive offered under the GPLv3 was explicitly designed for the two latest Rasp Pi models. The older upribox variant also worked with the RPi2; a USB wireless dongle was required to use the WiFi network. Now that the third-generation Rasp Pi and the latest model 3B+ already include a powerful wireless chip, upribox v2.0 no longer needs the additional hardware.

The upribox v2.0 software no longer supports the RPi2. Additionally, the developers recommend a microSD card with 4GB capacity in line with Class 10 (or UHS class 1) specifications to avoid unnecessary latencies during operation. The external power supply should supply at least 2A at 5V output to supply the system with sufficient power.


The online docs note that, "If you bought a pre-assembled upribox from our online store, you can skip [this section] since everything is already set up …." This startup section, then, is for those of you who have installed the upribox software on your RPi3.

Before booting your RPi3 with the upribox v2.0 operating system (hereafter considered a upribox), connect it to the router with a network cable. You can access the web-based administration interface two ways: If the computer is connected to the network with an Ethernet cable or over WiFi, enter the address https://upribox.local:4300 in the web browser.

If you want to access the wireless network running on your upribox, first connect to the WiFi network with the upribox SSID. It uses WPA2 encryption; the password is changeme. Now you can open the web browser on your computer and enter https://upri.box:4300 in the address bar.

Before the browser takes you to the upribox main page, you need to confirm a security exception rule. Please note that before logging in to upribox, you already need to have access to the Internet; otherwise, an error message will appear instead of the start page.

Alternatively, you can connect to the upribox over SSH by entering the command ssh upri@upri.box in the terminal and then entering the password changethedefaults!.

In all cases, you should change the default passwords as quickly as possible to prevent unauthorized access.

Upribox self-updates automatically. The system scans the repositories hourly for security updates and installs them automatically. Manual updates are therefore not necessary. Upribox also automatically renews the Privoxy [3] proxy server blocking rules every four hours.

Internet Access

The first time the upribox homepage is accessed, the system evaluates Internet access, so you need to connect to a test page [4] from another computer that is on the upribox WiFi network. After a successful test, confirm the corresponding query (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Checking Internet access on the test page.

More configuration is not needed at first. In the following dialog, click on the Device Overview button and log in as the upri user with the password changethedefaults! for administrative rights. The browser now guides you to the dashboard, which initially displays the device overview (Figure 2). Here you see all the client computers together with their operating modes.

Figure 2: In the dashboard, you can see all devices on the local network.

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