Edward Snowden used the TAILS distribution

    When Edward Snowden first appeared in front of a video camera last summer, many drew attention to his laptop with stickers from Tor anonymizer and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Now it became known what operating system is installed on this laptop: a protected Linux distribution called TAILS (The Amnesic Incognito Live System) based on Debian.

    The distribution used to be called Amnesia and was based on the Incognito OS.

    By downloading the TAILS image from a disk or a flash drive, we immediately get all the necessary tools for safe work on the Internet: Tor starts automatically, GPG for encrypting mail, OTR chat, KeePassX password manager and other programs, many of which are modified for security. The distribution is designed in such a way that it does not store any information locally (and does not access the drive at all) in order to protect sensitive data in case the computer falls into the hands of the enemy and to protect the system from malware. The RAM is erased before shutting down using sdmem, so that an attacker could not recover its contents from a recently turned off computer. The graphical interface can be faked under Windows XP, so as not to cause suspicion among others.

    Edward Snowden made TAILS even use Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist to whom the NSA secret documents were transmitted and who recently received the Pulitzer Prize through these publications, the most valuable journalism award.

    Now the Press Freedom Foundation recommends the TAILS distribution to all journalists and encourages donations for development . In a month, TAILS 1.0, the most important event in the history of the project, should be released. Separately, there is a development of a mobile version for smartphones and tablets.

    Despite its great importance, the TAILS distribution is still little known in the community and therefore until recently received almost no donations. Over the past year, developers have managed to collect all41,330 euros and 29.58 bitcoins , of which 20,000 euros were transferred by colleagues from the Tor project as a reward for the bugs found, and another 21,000 euros by the National Democratic Institute.

    By the way, TAILS developers also respect anonymity and communicate only via encrypted email. “The NSA puts pressure on free software and developers in various ways,” they explain the reasons for their secrecy.

    On the one hand, their anonymity suggests that this could be a project of the same special services, with embedded bookmarks. But there is evidence that this is not so. For example, in the slides of one of the NSA presentations, TAILS is mentioned as one of the main tools that interferes with wiretapping traffic. In addition, all the source code is open, so that everyone could test it for the five years during which this OS has been developed.

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