Setting up an iodine IP-over-DNS proxy

November 01, 2011

Here's a nice method to bypass any annoying wifi gateways, such as the ones you find at hotels and airports. A prerequisite is that the gateway allows DNS requests to be made.

Once we have that in the clear, we'll need root access to a server with full access to its DNS records. We'll be using iodine and iodined on both sides of the tunnel.

First of all, we'll need to create the proper DNS records - we're going to need two of those, one would be a NS record for the DNS lookup, the second is an A record to the server itself.

I'm using Amazon's Route53 service with the most excellent boto command line tools, so I would do this:

$ route53 add_record ZXXXXXXXXXXXXX iodine.domain.com. NS tunnel.domain.com. 259200 some_comment
$ route53 add_record ZXXXXXXXXXXXXX tunnel.domain.com. A 900 some_comment

It obviously doesn't matter what tools you use, you just want these two DNS records:

iodine      IN  NS  tunnel.mydomain.com.
tunnel      IN  A

So now we have the DNS records set up. Now it's time to install iodined on the server. I'm using a standard Ubuntu server - and if it's 11.04 and up, you're lucky because iodine has an apt package:

sudo apt-get install iodine

By default, the service does not launch on startup, but that good since we still need to configure it. The service config file is located at /etc/defaults/iodine. Here you'll want to set your iodined password and any command line args. If you want, you can always set iodined's run level - to launch on startup - by using the runlevel tool.

Alternatively, you can always just run iodined from the command line in foreground mode:

iodined -f -P yourpassword iodine.mydomain.com

The arguments you're going to need are a password of your choice, an internal IP that is not in use, and the tunnel domain to listen to. Last thing, you're going to want to make sure your firewall is open inbound to UDP requests on port 53.

Once you have that you can go on to http://code.kryo.se/iodine/check-it and test your setup with the iodine.mydomain.com domain. If all is good you can continue to install the client.

Last step, installing the client. I'm on a Mac with homebrew installed, so again installing it is kind of a breeze:

sudo brew install iodine

Once that's installed, launch the client:

sudo iodine -P yourpassword iodine.mydomain.com

and if all is well you have just set up a fancy IP-over-DNS tunnel! For final testing try to ping your server via the IP you gave it: Once you have the tunnel you can start routing traffic through it. For this you'll probably want to establish a secure connection, preferably via SSH. Remember that all DNS requests are non-secure and very easy to sniff over the network.

For further reference you can (should) check out the iodine README.