Tails reaches 1.3 -- the Linux distro that Edward Snowden used gets major update
If you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't care if the government spies on you, right? Wrong. No stupider words can ever be spoken. Your privacy should be very valuable to you, even if you only do squeaky-clean things. If someone was to snoop on my computer, they wouldn't find much; some family photos, a few games and other nonsense. Guess what? It is my nonsense, and I'll do whatever it takes to secure it.
If you want to cover your tracks, however, the best way is to use a CD or DVD-based operating system, as there is no hard drive access -- everything is run from the read-only medium. To be sure, you can physically remove the hard drive from your machine. A flash drive or SD Card can be used too, but they are less secure as both can be written to. Edward Snowden took this approach when he wanted to hide from the NSA. His OS of choice? The Linux-based Tails. Today, it hits version 1.3 and many security issues have been fixed.
"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 the RAM, which is automatically erased when the computer shuts down. So you won't leave any trace neither of the Tails system nor of what you did on the computer", says the developers.
The devs further explain, "Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 1.3, is out. This release fixes numerous security issues and all users must upgrade as soon as possible". This update is major, as many fixes have been implemented.
You can see a list of the now-patched security issues below.
- Tor Browser and its bundled NSS: Mozilla Foundation Security Advisory 2015-11, Mozilla Foundation Security Advisory 2015-12, Mozilla Foundation Security Advisory 2015-16
- xdg-utils: Debian Security Advisory 3131, Debian Security Advisory 3165
- jasper: Debian Security Advisory 3138
- eglibc: Debian Security Advisory 3142, Debian Security Advisory 3169
- openjdk-7: Debian Security Advisory 3144
- unzip: Debian Security Advisory 3152
- krb5: Debian Security Advisory 3153
- ruby1.9.1: Debian Security Advisory 3157
- xorg-server: Debian Security Advisory 3160
- dbus: Debian Security Advisory 3161
- bind9: Debian Security Advisory 3162
- libreoffice: Debian Security Advisory 3163
- e2fsprogs: Debian Security Advisory 3166
- sudo: Debian Security Advisory 3167
The following are the new features that have been added:
- Electrum is an easy to use bitcoin wallet. You can use the Bitcoin Client persistence feature to store your Electrum configuration and wallet.
- The Tor Browser has additional operating system and data security. This security restricts reads and writes to a limited number of folders.
- The obfs4 pluggable transport is now available to connect to Tor bridges. Pluggable transports transform the Tor traffic between the client and the bridge to help disguise Tor traffic from censors.
- Keyringer lets you manage and share secrets using OpenPGP and Git from the command line.
So, do you need to throw your hard drive in a lake and switch to Tails? Probably not. Your current operating system and HDD/SSD should be fine, as long as you stay on top of security updates and follow smart computing practices. With that said, if you have any need to be extra-secure -- and only you can quantify that level of need -- it is nice that something like Tails exists.
Forget about Snowden, the NSA and the USA Government for a moment. This can be a great tool for someone living under the threat of an oppressive regime, such as North Korea or Iran. In some places, simply going to certain website or viewing certain content can get you jailed or worse. In other words, Tails may be someone's window to the world and a way to escape oppression.
To give it a try, you can download it here.