Using Pi-hole on multiple VLANs

Pi-hole has been working like a charm on my network for years blocking ads. I also have it configured with DNS-over-HTTPS using cloudflared for extra security and privacy. Pi-hole has a great guide to setting-up DoH.

I recently reconfigured my home network with VLANs to separate the different kinds of devices on my network. There’s my primary/private LAN with the network gear, servers, and my personal systems. Then there’s a VLAN for scary IoT stuff and one for medium-trust devices like Xbox, PlayStation, Apple TV; devices that can access Plex for example but nothing more.

The quick and easy solution would have been allowing the all VLANs to access Pi-hole. For extra privacy, I don’t even want the IoT or medium trust devices knowing they’re on a VLAN or that the private network exists.

My solution was to join the Pi-hole to each VLAN and then configure the DHCP settings for each VLAN to use the Pi-hole as the DNS server.

Editing configuration on the Pi-hole

SSH into your Pi-hole. First, edit /etc/network/interfaces with sudo

For each VLAN, add a section like the following. In this example, the VLAN ID is 10 and I’m assigning the Pi-hole to

auto eth0.10
iface eth0.10 inet static

Then run sudo ifup eth0.10 and then running ip addr you should see this interface up and running with the given IP. That’s it!

You can add as many of these as you like. Here’s my full interfaces config. The first entry is the main/primary IP and I give it the gateway so when it goes to access the internet, it’s doing it via the main/private LAN.

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static

auto eth0.2
iface eth0.2 inet static

auto eth0.5
iface eth0.5 inet static

auto eth0.7
iface eth0.7 inet static

auto eth0.10
iface eth0.10 inet static

auto eth0.20
iface eth0.20 inet static

auto eth0.30
iface eth0.30 inet static

Block DNS queries to the WAN

With my DHCP settings pointing all devices to Pi-hole on all networks, the last change I made was to my firewall to block all outbound port 53 traffic. This prevents naughty devices from ignoring the DNS settings and talking directly to DNS servers they have hardcoded. Chrome, Amazon Echo, smart TVs, and all sorts of “smart” devices have been caught with hardcoded DNS.

Securing Pi-hole with iptables

Now that the Pi-hole is joined to every VLAN, by default any host on any VLAN would have access to the HTTP admin, SSH, or any other services you have running on the host. Since it’s joined directly to the VLAN and requests won’t go through your router, locking-down ports has to be done on the Pi-hole using iptables.

In my case, my VLAN 2 is for management, so any traffic from that VLAN is permitted. On all other VLANs, only port 53 traffic is accepted.

Here’s what I did, using sudo:

sudo iptables -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -m state --state RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -i eth0.2 -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -i eth0.3 -p tcp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -i eth0.5 -p tcp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -i eth0.7 -p tcp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -i eth0.10 -p tcp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -i eth0.20 -p tcp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -i eth0.30 -p tcp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -P INPUT DROP

Bonus fun: if you have a lot of VLANs you can easily generate the iptables commands.

echo {3,5,7,10,20,30} | \
  xargs -n1 sh -c 'echo iptables -A INPUT -i eth0.$0 -p tcp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT'

Then once you’re happy with how everything is working, save the configuration:

sudo iptables-save | sudo tee /etc/pihole/rules.v4