The idea for Project Rogue Server A.K.A. Project Silver was started after an interesting conversation I had with a friend of mine. I had this dead ups lying around and didn’t know what to do with it. So we threw some ideas back and forth and the one that stuck was a hidden rogue server. This could be used for both good and awesome. Just think of the possibilities. A hidden file archive, hook it up to your hacked tivo, mess with the RIAA when the come search your house….. (#$))_%$)*@&^( )%^@ (NO CARRIER)
So the other day I had a UPS of mine die. After taking it apart as I like to do with everything I thought what could I turn this into? After several ideas had passed I realized that I had come up with a real good one. I thought hey why not make it a hidden storage server. The question now is where to hide such a hideous creation. Well that part was the easy part. Plain sight. So after some tinkering and a few experiments and some research I decided to go ahead with it. The ultimate hidden rogue server.
The Server Camouflage (also known as an UPS):
This is the UPS we will be modifying. We chose a UPS for several reasons. First off is we need the housing to be large enough to hide our server in, but still be totally inconspicuous. second we needed to have network cables coming out of our housing and not have it look odd, if we used a toaster with a LAN cable for instance it might look a little suspicious but a ups with a LAN surge suppressor in it for instance, no problem! Finally we wanted it to be an object in the vicinity of the computer that would be connecting to it, after all the best hiding place is in plain sight. I recommend finding a broken UPS from your local surplus or thrift store, although CompUSA often has them on sale for about 35.00. Make sure to find one with the rj45 surge protector.
I love this thing, ok maybe not that far. But when I first started creating scope for this project I looked at various embedded technologies, nano-itx, sbc’s and pc-104. I chose the NSLU2 since it is small and already has Linux loaded. It is natively a very robust piece of hardware and has several customized and extended Nix based platforms available for it. I turned mine into a DNS server for instance as well as my file server core.
Remember that RJ45 surge projector? This is going to connect the two RJ45 ports to the inside. The NSLU2 is also going to be connected to this. Since we don’t have an expensive UPS the rj45 ports aren’t for remote management. You can choose to use a 4 port switch or a 4 port router. I prefer the router because it provides another layer of obscurity and security on the LAN in case it was ever “audited”.
Laptop Drive with USB2:
Any USB enclosure drive should work as long as it fits inside your ups. This one is a 40GB laptop drive. The USB cable is a little weird on this 2.5 inch external drive model, but as I didn’t have to provide the drive with extra power it was ideal. The second USB connector is for the extra power when used with low power devices.
The Misc Junk:
Some of the things that used for the build out were: 12 gauge copper wire, solder, hot glue and glue gun, electrical tape, adhesive laminating film.
First step is to gut your ups. This is not necessarily a haphazard hack and slash step. We need to preserve the leads, switches, breakers and the entire outlet wiring 100% as we will be keeping this as a striped down power strip as well to help with the camouflage process. As you can see there is plenty of room as long as we lay it out right.
Next up is to carefully remove the innards of the switch or router you chose. While doing this use the same careful consideration you would lend a new CPU or motherboard as one bad zap of static can toast the unit entirely.