Setting up a Non-Attributable system on a Linode VPS

Security analyst need a system to perform research on that is non-attributable, i.e. one that cannot be traced back to them or there company. The non-attributable system’s purpose is to keep adversaries from knowing when you are on to them. This article outlines how to setup a Linux VPS on Linode.com and demonstrates how fast and easy it is to rebuild it with another operating system if needed. 

Check out the video on YouTube and subscribe to see more cyber security videos. 

Logging in and selecting your hardware

The first thing you need to do is to visit www.linode.com and setup an account. After entering the usual information and creating an account go ahead and login. The site will present you with the linode manager page showing you all of your linode’s.

Linode Manager  page.

Click on the “Add a Linode” link to add a new linode. This will bring you to the page where you select the hardware you will need. The smallest system is called a Nanode and is perfect to start with. As your needs grow it is trivial to increase the hardware specs, we will cover that in a blog post later on.

Select the hardware specs for the Linode instance.

After you select the hardware you need to decide what data center to locate the VPS in, this can be done with the drop down at the bottom of the page.

Select the data center location for the Linode.

Here we selected the London data center and then click on the add this Linode button. Once it is completed you will see i in the Linode manager.

Linode manager showing the VPS is being created.

Click on the link for the new VPS and it will take you to the manager page for the Linode where you can deploy an image.

Linode ready for an image.

Now we can deploy an image to the VPS. Click on the deploy an image link in the manager and it will open the deploy page where we can set our desired operating system, how much disk to use and the root password.

Deploying a CentOS 7 image to the Linode VPS.

Clicking deploy will initiate the imaging process. It does not take long for a system image to be deployed, usually just a minute or two tops.

Manager creating system disk.

The manager will indicate it is done by displaying a green “Success” tag beside each of the jobs in queue, once this is done the system can be booted.

Booting the new system.

The manager will indicate the system is up and running by displaying “Running” in the server status block.

The VPS is up and running.

Logging in for the first time

After the system is up and running it is time to login. You can login several ways; the most likely would be with ssh however there is another way just in case you get locked out. Linode provides a remote access web shell that is directly connected to the Linode VPS allowing you to login as if you were sitting at the terminal.

Remote access tab shows IP address and other relevant information.

Scrolling down to the bottom of the remote access tab reveals the link to login remotely with lish.

Remote login with lish.

Clicking the link will open a new browser window and provide you with a terminal screen where you can login to the VPS.

Lish terminal in a web browser.

Rapidly rebuild your VPS with a new operating system.

One of the biggest advantages of Linode is the ability to rebuild a system with a new operating system in a matter minutes. This is not that important for the non-attributable system but if you are building something like a honeypot or malware sandbox it could be valuable. From the manager click on the system you want to rebuild.

System we have selected for the rebuild.

Click the rebuild link and the manager will bring up the rebuild window, which is identical to the deploy window.

Rebuild page where you will select the operating system.

Lets change the operating system to Fedora 28 for this new example.

Click ok to start the rebuild.

When the rebuild is complete all you have to do is boot the system.

Click ok to boot the system.

All that’s left is to login and verify it is Fedora 28. Launch the lish shell, login with the new root account and password then run uname -a to see what kernel is running.

Verifying Fedora 28 is the installed operating system.

Now that the system is installed and running it’s a good idea to secure the system and keep miscreants out, check out this post to see how to secure it: How to secure a fresh Linux VPS install. Or check out the video on YouTube.

If you have questions feel free to ask them in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and the accompanying video, if you did please take a moment and give it a like also consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. I enjoy doing tutorials and how-to’s on cyber security topics and as long as they are popular I’ll keep doing them.

See ya

References

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