A friend posted a link to this story about the crypto and anonymity tools Edward Snowden used to communicate with journalists before his big reveal. It’s an interesting read, by itself, with lots of links out to various privacy tools. One that especially caught my attention was Tails, an operating system that, “you can start on almost any computer.” I had to check that out. Sure enough, after a couple of failed attempts, I was able to get it going on my MacBook Pro. It’s exciting!
But what does it really do? Well, it doesn’t actually solve any of my problems. I don’t have any secrets that need protecting in that degree. The evil guys who can get at my data are governments, and the data they can get at are things that they could get anyway, whether I use Tor or not. Still, I like that Tails exists. I like that there’s an operating system that I can run on a Mac or a PC, whatever’s to hand. It’s an operating system and application suite assembled for paranoid/secure operations. I like that if I ever should need such a system, I’ve got it handy.
If you want to try it out yourself, here’s some advice that isn’t on the Tails website: have a recordable DVD handy. The thing that you download from the Tails website is a disk image and you need to burn that onto the recordable DVD. There are instructions on how to install that image directly onto a USB drive, but they didn’t work for me. The way I got it to work was to burn the image onto a DVD, boot from the DVD, then use the Tails installer that’s part of the system tools to install Tails onto a USB drive. Note that although the image is about 1 gigabyte, the installer won’t work unless the USB drive you’re installing onto is at least 16 gigabytes.