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Tails (operating system)

Tails or The Amnesic Incognito Live System is a security-focused Debian-based Linux distribution aimed at preserving privacy and anonymity.[6] All its incoming and outgoing connections are forced to go through Tor,[7] and any and all non-anonymous connections are blocked. The system is designed to be booted as a live DVD or live USB, and will leave no digital footprint on the machine unless explicitly told to do so. The Tor Project has provided financial support for its development.[8] According to the Whonix Project, in comparison with other anonymity-focused software or platforms, "Tails is better suited for high-risk users who face aggressive, targeted surveillance."[9]

Tails
Tails logo
Tails desktop 3.7.png
Tails 3.7 Desktop
DeveloperThe Tails project
OS familyUnix-like
Working stateCurrent
Source modelOpen source
Initial releaseJune 23, 2009; 10 years ago (2009-06-23)
Latest release4.0 / October 22, 2019; 27 days ago (2019-10-22)[1]
Latest preview4.0 beta 2 / September 4, 2019; 2 months ago (2019-09-04)[2]
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Marketing targetPersonal computers
Update methodTails Upgrader[3]
Package managerdpkg
Platformsx86-64[4]
Kernel typeMonolithic
UserlandGNU
Default user interfaceGNOME 3
LicenseGNU GPLv3[5]
Preceded byIncognito
Official websitetails.boum.org

HistoryEdit

Tails was first released on 23 June 2009. It is the next iteration of development on Incognito, a Gentoo-based Linux distribution.[10] The Tor Project has provided financial support for its development.[8] Tails has also received funding from the Debian Project, Mozilla, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation.[11]

Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, and Barton Gellman have each said that Tails was an important tool they used in their work with National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.[12][13][14]

As of release 3.0, Tails requires a 64-bit processor to run.[15]

Bundled softwareEdit

NetworkingEdit

  • Tor with: Stream isolation, regular, obfs2, obfs3, obfs4, and ScrambleSuit bridges support.
  • NetworkManager for easy network configuration
  • Tor Browser, a web browser based on Mozilla Firefox and modified to protect anonymity with:
    • Torbutton for anonymity and protection against JavaScript with all cookies treated as session cookies by default;
    • HTTPS Everywhere transparently enables SSL-encrypted connections to a great number of major websites
    • NoScript to have even more control over JavaScript
    • uBlock Origin to remove advertisements.

It is to note, that due to the fact that Tails include uBlock Origin (compared to the normal Tor Browser Bundle), it could be subject to an attack to determine if the user is using Tails (since the userbase for Tails is less than the Tor Browser Bundle) by checking if the website is blocking advertising.[16]

Encryption and privacy softwareEdit

Users can install any other software which is present in Debian GNU/Linux, either through APT (Tails provides three repositories) or dpkg.[17][18]

One may choose among a large number of languages and keyboard layouts when the system is booted.

PersistencyEdit

Tails is by design amnesic. It lives in RAM, and doesn't write to any other drive unless strictly specified. However, it is possible to set up an encrypted persistence volume (for example, within the USB Drive where Tails is installed) to save user data. It is also possible to instruct Tails to automatically install some additional software from the persistence drive, to load bookmarks for the Tor Browser, keep GPG keys or to keep configurations data for other applications. It is important to note, that the encrypted space could be detected by forensic analysis and is not hidden like in the case of VeraCrypt which offers plausible deniability and therefore shouldn't be distinguishable from random data.[19]

SecurityEdit

During the shutdown process, Tails will overwrite most of the used RAM to avoid a cold boot attack.[20] An emergency shutdown can be triggered by physically removing the medium where Tails is installed: a watchdog monitors the status of the boot medium, and if removed then the memory erasing process will begin immediately. This should however only be used in an emergency situation because it could break the file system of the persistence volume, if set up.[21][22]

Release historyEdit

Legend:
Old version
Older version, still supported
Latest version
Latest preview version
Future release
Release history
Version[23] Release date[23] Notes
Old version, no longer supported: 0.1 June 20, 2009
  • Unreleased, but listed in official changelog
Old version, no longer supported: 0.2 June 23, 2009
  • First public release.[24]
  • The project was called Amnesia.[24][25]
Old version, no longer supported: 0.3 November 26, 2009
Old version, no longer supported: 0.4 February 5, 2010
Old version, no longer supported: 0.4.1 February 6, 2010
Old version, no longer supported: 0.4.2 February 7, 2010
  • Last release as "amnesia"[23]
Old version, no longer supported: 0.5 April 30, 2010
  • First release since the project was renamed to The Amnesic Incognito Live System.[23][26]
Old version, no longer supported: 0.6 October 20, 2010
  • Unreleased versions: 0.6~1.gbpef2878 (Sep 26), 0.6~rc2 (Sep 29), 0.6~rc3 (Oct 2)
Old version, no longer supported: 0.6.1 December 24, 2010
Old version, no longer supported: 0.6.2 January 19, 2011
Old version, no longer supported: 0.7 April 6, 2011
  • Unreleased versions: 0.7~rc1 (Mar 11), 0.7~rc2 (Mar 25)
0.8, 0.8.1, 0.9, 0.10, 0.10.1, 0.10.2, 0.11, 0.12, 0.12.1, 0.13, 0.14, 0.15, 0.16, 0.17, 0.17.1, 0.17.2, 0.18, 0.19, 0.20, 0.20.1, 0.21, 0.22, 0.22.1, 0.23
Old version, no longer supported: 1.0[24] April 27, 2014
  • 36th stable release.[24]
1.0.1, 1.1, 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2, 1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.2.3, 1.3, 1.3.1, 1.3.2, 1.4, 1.4.1
Old version, no longer supported: 1.5[27] August 10, 2015
  • Disabled access to the local network via the Tor Browser.[27]
1.5.1, 1.6
Old version, no longer supported: 1.7[27] November 3, 2015
  • Replaced the Claws Mail email client with Icedove, which is based on Mozilla Thunderbird.[27]
  • Enabled booting Tails in offline mode, with networking disabled.[27]
1.8, 1.8.1, 1.8.2 (last version to fit 2GB flash drive)
Old version, no longer supported: 2.0[28] January 25, 2016
  • It used Debian 8 as its base and included a new Gnome shell desktop environment, systemd, and a new installation process.[28]
2.0.1
Old version, no longer supported: 2.2[27] March 7, 2016
  • Enabled viewing DRM-protected DVDs.[27]
  • Added a new “Onion Circuits” interface for viewing Tor routing information.[27]
2.2.1, 2.3
Old version, no longer supported: 2.4[27] June 6, 2016
  • Automatic account configuration of Icedove, harden kernel and firewall, update the DRM and Mesa graphical libraries.[29]
  • New version of Tor Browser.[27]
Old version, no longer supported: 2.5[30] July 31, 2016
Old version, no longer supported: 2.6[31] September 20, 2016
Old version, no longer supported: 2.7[32] November 13, 2016
Old version, no longer supported: 2.7.1[33] November 30, 2016
Old version, no longer supported: 2.9.1[34] December 14, 2016
Old version, no longer supported: 2.10[35] January 24, 2017[35]
Old version, no longer supported: 2.11[36] March 7, 2017[36]
  • The last version to include I2P
Old version, no longer supported: 2.12[37] April 19, 2017[37]
Old version, no longer supported: 3.0[38] June 13, 2017[38]
Old version, no longer supported: 3.1[39] August 8, 2017[39]
Old version, no longer supported: 3.2[40] October 3, 2017[40]
Old version, no longer supported: 3.3[41] November 14, 2017[41]
Old version, no longer supported: 3.4[42] January 9, 2018[42]
  • 3.4 fixes the widely reported Meltdown attack, and includes the partial mitigation for Spectre
Old version, no longer supported: 3.5[43] January 23, 2018[43]
Old version, no longer supported: 3.6[44] March 13, 2018[44]
  • 3.6 adds a new lock screen feature that, when enabled, can be unlocked with the administrator password that was set when tails booted up. Otherwise, you can set up a password to unlock your screen when locking your screen for the first time.
  • Install drivers for the Video Acceleration API to improve the display of videos on many graphics cards.
Old version, no longer supported: 3.7[45] May 9, 2018[45]
Old version, no longer supported: 3.8[46][47] June 26, 2018[46]
Old version, no longer supported: 3.9[48][49] September 5, 2018[49]
  • Firefox 60.2, major release; will include VeraCrypt support and major Additional Software Packages improvements.[49]
Old version, no longer supported: 3.9.1[50] October 3, 2018[50]
  • Update Tor Browser to 8.0.2. This fixes 2 critical security vulnerabilities in JavaScript in Firefox.
  • Update Thunderbird to fix these same vulnerabilities.[51]
Current stable version: 3.10.1[52] October 23, 2018
  • Hide the PIM option when unlocking VeraCrypt volumes because PIM won't be supported until Tails 4.0. (#16031)
  • Rename the buttons in the confirmation dialog of Tails Installer to Install (or Upgrade) and Cancel to be less confusing. (#11501)
  • Update Linux to 4.8.
  • Update Tor Browser to 8.0.3.
  • Update Thunderbird to 60.2.1.
Version Release date Notes

In mainstream mediaEdit

On 3 July 2014, German public television channel Das Erste reported that the NSA's XKeyscore surveillance system contains definitions that match persons who search for Tails using a search engine or visit the Tails website. A comment in XKeyscore's source code calls Tails "a comsec mechanism advocated by extremists on extremist forums".[53][54]

On 28 December 2014, Der Spiegel published slides from an internal NSA presentation dating to June 2012 in which the NSA deemed Tails on its own as a "major threat" to its mission, and when used in conjunction with other privacy tools such as OTR, Cspace, RedPhone, and TrueCrypt was ranked as "catastrophic," leading to a "near-total loss/lack of insight to target communications, presence..."[55][56]

Tails partnersEdit

Organizations, companies and individuals that provide financial support to Tails through grants or donations are recognized as "partners",[57] and have included:

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Tails 4.0 is out". October 22, 2019. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  2. ^ "Call for testing: 4.0~beta2". September 4, 2019. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  3. ^ design documentation
  4. ^ Tails - System requirements
  5. ^ "Tails 0.11 incognito live system released", The H, April 30, 2012, retrieved August 12, 2012
  6. ^ Vervloesem, Koen (April 27, 2011), "The Amnesic Incognito Live System: A live CD for anonymity", LWN.net, retrieved August 12, 2012
  7. ^ "Anonym im Netz" [Anonymous on the Net], TecChannel (in German), February 6, 2012, retrieved August 12, 2012
  8. ^ a b "Finances". Tails. April 4, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  9. ^ "Anonymity Operating System Comparison". www.whonix.org. October 7, 2019. Archived from the original on September 15, 2019. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  10. ^ Gray, James (September 16, 2011), "The Tails Project's The Amnesic Incognito Live System (Tails)", Linux Journal, retrieved August 12, 2012
  11. ^ "Tails report for May, 2014". Tails. June 14, 2014.
  12. ^ Timm, Trevor (April 2, 2014). "Help Support the Little-Known Privacy Tool That Has Been Critical to Journalists Reporting on the NSA". Freedom of the Press Foundation. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  13. ^ Finley, Klint (April 14, 2014). "Out in the Open: Inside the Operating System Edward Snowden Used to Evade the NSA". WIRED. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  14. ^ Condliffe, Jamie (April 15, 2014). "Try the Super-Secure USB Drive OS That Edward Snowden Insists on Using". Gizmodo. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  15. ^ "Tails - Tails 3.0 is out". tails.boum.org. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  16. ^ https://tails.boum.org/doc/about/fingerprint/index.en.html
  17. ^ "APT repository". tails.boum.org. October 7, 2019. Archived from the original on September 25, 2019. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  18. ^ "Features and included software". tails.boum.org. October 7, 2019. Archived from the original on August 23, 2019. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  19. ^ https://tails.boum.org/doc/first_steps/persistence/configure/index.en.html
  20. ^ https://tails.boum.org/contribute/design/memory_erasure/
  21. ^ https://tails.boum.org/contribute/design/memory_erasure/
  22. ^ https://tails.boum.org/doc/first_steps/shutdown/index.en.html
  23. ^ a b c d Tails Developers (n.d.). "[no title]". Tails. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  24. ^ a b c d Murphy, David (May 1, 2014). "Secure OS Tails Emerges From Beta". PC Magazine. Ziff Davis. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  25. ^ "Announce: amnesia Live system (initial release)". tor-talk mailing list (Mailing list). 16 August 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  26. ^ "version 0.5". Tails. n.d. Archived from the original on June 25, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hoffman, Chris (June 9, 2016). "Tails, the anonymity-focused Linux distribution with deep Tor integration, reaches version 2.4". PCWorld. IDG. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  28. ^ a b Paul, Ian (January 27, 2016). "The ultra-secure Tails OS beloved by Edward Snowden gets a major upgrade". PCWorld. IDG. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  29. ^ "Tails 2.4 is out". Tails. June 7, 2016. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
  30. ^ "Tails 2.5 is out". August 2, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  31. ^ "Tails 2.6 is out". September 21, 2016. Retrieved September 22, 2016.
  32. ^ "Tails 2.7 is out". November 15, 2016. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  33. ^ "Tails 2.7.1 is out". November 30, 2016. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  34. ^ "Tails 2.9.1 is out". December 14, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  35. ^ a b "Tails 2.10 is out". January 24, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  36. ^ a b "Tails 2.11 is out". January 6, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  37. ^ a b "Tails 2.12 is out". April 19, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  38. ^ a b "Tails 3.0 is out". June 13, 2017. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  39. ^ a b "Tails 3.1 is out". August 8, 2017. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  40. ^ a b "Tails 3.2 is out". October 3, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  41. ^ a b "Tails 3.3 is out". November 14, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  42. ^ a b "Tails 3.4 is out". January 9, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  43. ^ a b "Tails 3.5 is out". January 23, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  44. ^ a b "Tails 3.6 is out". March 13, 2018. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  45. ^ a b "Tails 3.7 is out". May 9, 2018. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  46. ^ a b "Tails 3.8 is out". June 26, 2018. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  47. ^ DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 770, 2 July 2018
  48. ^ "Tails - Tails 3.9 is out". tails.boum.org. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  49. ^ a b c "Tails - Calendar". July 17, 2018. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  50. ^ a b "Tails - Release notes". tails.boum.org. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  51. ^ "Tails - Tails 3.9.1 is out". tails.boum.org. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  52. ^ "Tails 3.10.1 is out". tails.boum.org. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  53. ^ Jacob Appelbaum, A. Gibson, J. Goetz, V. Kabisch, L. Kampf, L. Ryge (July 3, 2014). "NSA targets the privacy-conscious". DasErste.de.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  54. ^ Bruce Schneier (July 3, 2014). "NSA Targets Privacy Conscious for Surveillance". Schneier on Security.
  55. ^ SPIEGEL Staff (December 28, 2014). "Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA's War on Internet Security". Der Spiegel. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  56. ^ "Presentation from the SIGDEV Conference 2012 explaining which encryption protocols and techniques can be attacked and which not" (PDF). Der Spiegel. December 28, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  57. ^ "Tails: Partners". Retrieved June 7, 2019.

External linksEdit