Thu Dec 01 2022
Tails Linux and it’s features
Tails (The Amnesic Incognito Live System) is a version of the Linux operating system optimized for anonymity. It comes with several privacy and encryption tools, most notably Tor an application that anonymizes a user's internet traffic by routing it through a network of computers run by volunteers around the world. It was first released on 23 June 2009. And latest version 3.7 was released on May 9, 2018; 32 days ago.
Tails doesn't store any data locally. Tails makes it much easier to use Tor and other privacy tools. Once you boot into Tails, Tor runs automatically. Tails includes privacy tools like PGP, the password management system KeePassX, and the chat encryption plugin Off-the-Record. Tails is not normally installed on a computer, instead, it's run from a bootable DVD, USB flash drive or flash memory card.
Why should you use Tails?
It seems like every other day we hear about another hack, browser exploit, or a nasty bit of malware. If you do a lot of your browsing on public Wi-Fi networks, you're a lot more susceptible to these types of hacks. Tails, a security-focused distribution of Linux, can help you. If you need to use a public Wi-Fi network, then this distribution can hide your traffic from someone trying to peek in. Likewise, if you're worried about someone tracking down your location - whether it's a creepy stalker or something even worse - randomizing and anonymizing your traffic keeps you safe. Obviously, you don't need this all the time, but if you're checking bank statements, uploading documents onto a work server, or even just doing some shopping, it's better to be safe than sorry. Tails can run in a virtual machine or from a Live CD/USB. That means you can carry them around in your pocket and boot into them when you need to without causing yourself too much trouble.
Features of Tails
The headline feature of this is the ability to lock the screen. While that might not sound like much, it’s quite useful to have if you need to leave your Tails computer unattended for some reason or other when you don't want people to snoop. The lock feature can be found in the upper right-hand menu, if you set an administrator password during setup then you use that to unlock the machine again, however, if you didn’t create an admin password then you’re given the option to create a new one on the fly.
It will install the software in the background, even if you’re offline. Overall, your system will be up and running and ready to use much quicker than before.
Tails relies on the Tor anonymity network to protect your privacy online. All software is configured to connect to the Internet through Tor. If an application tries to connect to the Internet directly, the connection is automatically blocked for security. Tor is an open and distributed network that helps defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.
Use anywhere but leave no trace
Using Tails on a computer doesn't alter or depend on the operating system installed on it. So you can use it in the same way on your computer, a friend's computer, or one at your local library. After shutting down Tails, the computer will start again with its usual operating system. Tails is configured with special care to not use the computer's hard-disks, even if there is some swap space on them. The only storage space used by Tails is in RAM, which is automatically erased when the computer shuts down. So you won't leave any trace on the computer either of the Tails system itself or what you used it for. That's why we call Tails "amnesia".
Tails also comes with a selection of tools to protect your data using strong encryption -
LUKS - Encrypt your USB sticks or external hard-disks using LUKS, the Linux standard for disk-encryption.
HTTPS - Automatically use HTTPS to encrypt all your communications to a number of major websites using HTTPS Everywhere, a Firefox extension developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
OpenPGP - Encrypt and sign your emails and documents using the de facto standard OpenPGP either from Tails email client, text editor or file browser.
OTR - Protect your instant messaging conversations using OTR, a cryptographic tool that provides encryption, authentication, and deniability.
Nautilus Wipe - Securely delete your files and clean your disk space using Nautilus Wipe.
NetworkManager for easy network configuration. You can connect to a network using a wired, Wi-Fi, or mobile broadband connection - If a wired connection is detected, Tails automatically connects to it. To connect to a Wi-Fi network - open the system menu in the top-right corner. Choose Wi-Fi and then Select Network. For mobile broadband network - open the system menu in the top-right corner. Choose Mobile Broadband.
Error message indicator
An error message indicating the name of the graphics card if Tails fails to start the GNOME desktop.
A PDF metadata cleaner has also been bundled. The pdf-redact-tools is a command line tool that lets you clean metadata and redacts PDF files by converting them to PNG images.
An automatic upgrade
Some notable software upgrades include Electrum going from 2.7.9 to 3.0.6; Linux being upgraded to 4.15.0; Tor being upgraded to 0.3.2.10; and Thunderbird being bumped to 52.6.0. If you have an older version of Tails, you will not be able to do an automatic upgrade, instead, you’ll have to upgrade manually.
Tails includes LibreOffice, a powerful office suite which embeds several tools.
Tails includes Audacity sound and video application. Audacity is a multi-track audio editor designed for recording, playing and editing of digital audio.
One thing you should know about tails is that it defaults to the user, amnesia. This particular user is not a member of sudo, so it is not allowed to execute tasks that require administrative permission. You can get around that during the startup. Click Additional settings at the Tails Greeter and then click Administration password. Type and verify the new administrator password and click Add. Once you’ve started Tails with an administrator password in place, the amnesia user can then work with tools like sudo. Do note, as soon as you restart Tails, that administrator password is gone and will have to be reset.
When starting Tails, you can choose between a large number of languages, including Arabic, Azerbaijani, Catalan, Czech, Welsh, Danish, German, Greek, English, Spanish, Persian, Finnish, French, Croatian, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Latvian, Bokmål, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Slovene, Albanian, Serbian, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Chinese.
How does it work?
Tails is a live operating system built on Debian that uses Tor for all its internet traffic. Its main goal is to give you security through anonymity. With it, you can browse the web anonymously through encrypted connections. Tails protects you in a number of ways. Since all your traffic is routed through Tor, it's incredibly difficult to track your physical location or see which sites you visit. Tails doesn't use a computer's hard disk, so nothing you do is saved on the computer you're running it. Instead, everything you're working on is stored in RAM and erased when you shut down. This means any sensitive documents you're working on are never stored permanently. Because of that, Tails is a really good operating system to use when you're on a public computer or network. It's also packed with a bunch of basic cryptographic tools. If you're running Tails off a USB drive, it's encrypted with LUKS. All your internet traffic is encrypted with HTTPS Everywhere, your IM conversations are encrypted with OTR, and your emails and documents are encrypted with OpenPGP.
Remember encryption, security, and privacy are only as good as the user. Make sure you follow security best practices and keep in mind that offline and clearnet activity like password and account sharing can compromise your encrypted sessions. Follow software changelogs, and make sure the fundamentals of encryption. If you looking for the means by which you can browse and work anonymously, knowing once you shut down every trace of what you were doing will vanish, then Tails might well be the perfect fit. Give Tails 3 a spin and enjoy anonymity at its simplest. Thank you!