As a matter of necessity, I can t effectively live in the wilds of Montana. I require communications, electricity, gas, plumbing and sewer. I require reliable roads . I require nearby civilization with infrastructure for shipping, supplies , and banking.
The house will need to have some space that can be converted to fulfill some special requirements. The property should be large and secluded, with a significant private property buffer from other nearby residents or visitors . The climate should be very moderate, without any extreme weather that will drive significant maintenance work or hinder local travel. The local law enforcement must be tolerant of eccentrics who like their privacy. The state must have permissive gun laws.
Finding such a place is not difficult, especially if location and cost are not major factors, within the necessary requirements. It didn t take long to find a medium- sized house with a 2-car detached garage and large unfinished basement . The nearby town has a small population and the needed services and stores.
Before moving anything in, some modifications were done. A large gasoline generator was installed in the garage. The generator was capable of over 60 amps at 120V, 60Hz. An external gas tank was arranged to provide for 48 hours off the main grid at 60 amps draw. Four thick 1-gauge wires were run from the garage underground in conduit to the house basement, where a new breaker box was installed. The grid power was re-routed to go through the garage.
Behind the house a new slab was poured, and a heavy-duty air conditioner was installed. The power cords were run to the new breaker box in the basement. The air was also run just to the basement, where new ducting was installed in the ceiling, with two main vents.
A pair of basic box rooms were constructed to correspond to the two vents. Lighting and power were installed. Cheap doors were hung.
I had new telephone wire pulled from the basement to the edge of the property closest to the nearest B-box. I had a 25-pair in the ground, and after the circuit orders, paid the fee to have all 25 pairs retrenched from the property line to the telco box down the road. The circuit order included four 1MBs, a T1, a BRI, and 2 alarm circuits to be used for DSL.
Some of the modifications I have to do myself. I don t want too many visitors after a certain point, and I don t want to draw attention to myself more than I have to. I ve made it a point to be absent during the installs , so that there is no opportunity for curious workers to ask questions, no way for them to recognize me when I m in town.
I have some finish work to do on one of the two rooms downstairs. I pick up a quantity of quarter-inch steel sheets, which I ve had the mill cut to size as much as possible. The basement has its own external door and stairs, and with a dolly , I m able to get the sheets down into the basement. Also, I pick up a cutting torch and welding supplies.
The sides of the room go up easily enough. The room is approximately 10 foot by 10 foot , 8 feet high. The wall sheets are 5 by 8, so two welded together make up one wall. The wall with the door requires cutting the door into that sheet. The ceiling is the hardest part. The ceiling and floor sheets are 5 by 5, and two of them have to be cut to accommodate the ceiling vent. To each of the ceiling panels, I ve welded two long bolts in opposite corners, and a ring in the approximate center of it. In the room upstairs over the steel room in the basement, I ve taken up sections of the floor. This allows me to winch the panels up from the room above. Once the panels are at the ceiling in the basement, I attach a crossbar over the floor joists from above, and bolt it on. This secures the panel in place so I can weld it, and keeps the welds from being the only thing holding it up, so they don t break. The floor above will be repaired later so that none of this can be seen from the first floor room. The floor of the steel room is relatively easy to finish.
The door of the room takes some extra work. I ve left the cheap door attached to the wallboard opening out. On the inside of the room, I ve attached the steel cutout to the interior steel walls with 6 heavy-duty steel hinges . On the hinge edge, I ve soldered thick grounding braid between the wall and the door, to provide a flexible high-conductivity electrical connection. The door is held closed from the inside with a throw bolt. Later, when the room is in use, I ll have long magnetic conductive strips that will be used to seal the edges of the door from light, and to finish the electrical connection for the door.
The vent is a problem. It s not ideal, but a tempest-rated mesh vent cover is welded to the ceiling where the A/C comes in. The only other opening needed is for power. The ceiling light fixture was eliminated, so the room will be lit by a lamp. I drill a hole in the side wall and thread the wire for a tempest-rated 10 AMP power filter. The filter is mounted to the steel wall. No communications lines are needed in this room.
The room is finished with a plywood floor, just laid atop the steel, and the walls and ceiling are painted on the inside with several coats of a latex paint. It is furnished with a wooden chair and table. After checking with a RF generator and field strength meter, I m satisfied that my Faraday cage is adequate.
Computer and communications equipment are ordered and delivered to the UPS store in town, and I go pick them up in my truck. The equipment is nothing special. Standard desktop PCs and Cisco networking gear. Bloomberg no longer requires that you use their special terminal , so a standard Windows XP desktop fills that function. The PCs are relatively high-end beige boxes. They must function for a period of time without requiring a lot of maintenance, so each is given a large CPU, lots of RAM and disk space. A total of 8 desktops are purchased. Two are placed on the table in the cage, the rest are left in the unsecured room. Each desktop (XP in the cage, XP and Linux in the unsecure) has duplicate hardware, in case of failure. The duplicate hardware is cold standby, and will require reinstall and restore if it needs to be put into service.
The remaining pair of desktops function as a flight recorder. Any network communications that enter or leave the compound will be logged by the operating unit. Each has a pair of 200GB drives . The logger attaches to the network choke point with a passive tap. It cannot transmit over the network, a precaution against compromise. The packets are written to the disk, encrypted to a public key. When analysis needs to be done, the encrypted store must be carried to the cage for decryption and analysis. This box runs a stripped-down OpenBSD.
The various Internet providers are there for redundancy, not secrecy . In case one of the providers is having network problems, I can switch to another. In case the copper is cut, I have backup GPRS service and a terrestrial microwave provider.
None of this will be of any use against someone trying to intentionally deny my Internet service. If they want to, they will be able to do so. None of this will prevent someone from trying to monitor my Internet usage if they choose to; it is not a protection against that threat.