Keeping your privacy is hard in our world of technology. Luckily there’s a solution available for free for you to stay undercover. Today I’ll be presenting Tails OS – maybe you’ve heard about it, maybe you haven’t. Tag along and maybe it’ll peak your interest!

What is it?

Tails is a live Linux system aiming to preserve your privacy and anonymity on the Net. It enables you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere and on any computer without leaving a trace. However, nothing is sacred. It is fully possible to blow your cover.

According to the Tails project itself:

“It is a complete operating system designed to be used from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card independently of the computer’s original operating system. It is Free Software and based on Debian GNU/Linux.”

In other words – it has all software you would expect a Linux distribution to have. It has several built-in applications preconfigured with security in mind: web browser, instant messaging client, email client, office suite, image and sound editor, etc.

Tails_screenshot
Tails OS screenshot (Wikicommons)

Where can I get it?

You can download Tails from here. Just choose the download method you are comfortable with and follow the onscreen instruction. I prefer the DVD ISO. The whole download is just 1.1 GB and it shouldn’t take long to get it.

For installation, follow the onscreen instruction on the site. But prior to that, let talk about how I use Tails.

How do I use it?

One great thing with Tails is that it can be run from pretty much any bootable media. Fiddling with USB sticks and whatnot isn’t exactly my thing. Instead I have chosen to run it as a virtual machine.

I run Tails on my test computer at home as a guest OS using VMWare Player. It appears to be working smoothly and I can administrate it however I want. One nice side effect is that I can discard the VM and setup a new one pretty quick.

I’m a bit paranoid when I use Tails. But not much. My host computer is set up with a VPN client in addition. If you chose to go this route, make sure to connect the VPN client before booting Tails. My use of Tails is somewhat limited to research and communication when I have to visit the darkweb.

Warning

As I mentioned earlier, nothing is really sacred. Tails may give you a false trust of privacy. As with any software or service offering privacy, be aware that slip ups may occur. In my case running a virtual instance may pose some security risks. Both the virtualization software and host OS are able to monitor what you are doing. What if the host OS is compromised by, say, a key logger? Well. You can read more about security considerations here.

For even more information about Tails, make sure to read the documentation!

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