24 June 2012

Tail OS- A secure, private, and anonymous OS

In this age where everything everyone does is out in the open and online for everyone to see it seems a little odd to be concerned with issues of privacy. Truth be told I am dull and uninteresting and can't really imagine why anyone would want to spy on me or collect any information on me but from governments to private companies datamining has become a big business.

I have been known to jump onto the privacy ship from time to time and sail around. It is nice knowing that at these times that I have used various methods to anonymize myself as best as I can and encrypt my messages end to end so that even if snooping people intercept the message they won't be able to read it.

Setting all of this is not really difficult but it has multiple points of failure. You can encrypt the web browser, for example, and then forget about setting up the proxies on the instant messaging or the email client. Oops!

I may have found the solution for this. It is a Debian-based operating system called The Amnesic Incognito Live System (TAILS). Tails is really a Debian remix with all the major security features built in. Tails operates Tor standard. Pidgin, the instant messaging client, has OTR built in. The web browser has javascript and cookie blockers in place and HTTPS-Everywhere built-in and working.

Working from a live cd means that nothing that you do gets saved. All the security packages means that your surfing is anonymous (with Tor) and private (as long as you are using encryption.)

After some non-Tails issues in the downloading and burning a Tails Live CD I have now used it for a few hours and have encountered very few problems. It works as advertised but one must remember to turn on the scriptblocker and remember that the cookie-blocker defaults to accepting session cookies.

I have yet to try the email client (Claws) or the SSH client because I am not sure how to secure get my GPG and SSH keys over to a computer that running a live cd. It may be a simple matter of having the keys on a thumbdrive but if I lose the thumbdrive (a common thing with me) I might be in trouble.

Another issue that I see don the road is that the friends that I IM with who are used to using OTR encryption might get a little tired of having to verify me every time they chat with me.

You see when you stop Tails all the settings are lost. That actually can be seen as a security feature in that you are not leaving a trace on any computer. For the operator however it might be slightly annoying to need to reenter everything everytime you fire up the computer.

Then again TAILS can be run from a LiveUSB pendrive and the settings can be saved into a persistent partition on the thumbdrive. Two forseeable problems with this: 1) if you start downloading programs the unexperienced may mess up the work that the Tails folk have done; 2) as I said above I am notorious for losing thumbdrives.

As a final note using the encryption and Tor slows down your computer significantly. I am rather mundane in my computing so going to lowbandwidth options is not a problem for me. However if you do all the hip and trendy stuff online you may get annoyed by the speed of it.

So far in my first day of playing with Tails I am impressed with it enough to keep playing with it. Luckily, in my case, I have access to a wonderful server to keep stuff for me. If I continue to use Tails the almighty "cloud" may become very important to my computing.

permalink: http://whistlewright.parlementum.net/?p=3051

#computing #TailsOS



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