Tails. For The Ultimate In Online Privacy.


Tails bootable systemThe lack of privacy is a major problem on the internet. People can, and do, manage to track and monitor what you're doing. Sometimes these people are advertisers and large companies, while other times they're hackers and criminals.

If you want the ultimate in online privacy, check out a system called Tails. The full name of the product is The Amnesic Incognito Live System, which gives some useful clues as to what it does. Amnesic because, after you've finished using it, it deletes all traces of itself and the memory it used. Incognito because it uses the Tor network to ensure that all of your web browsing activity is pretty much untraceable and anonymous. And Live System because, rather than an installable product, Tails is a complete bootable operating system which you run from a USB stick or DVD disk, perform whatever you need to do, then reboot back into your familiar (and less anonymous) Windows environment.

You can download Tails from https://tails.boum.org/install/download/ though be aware that it's an 1,100 MB download so it may take some time. You'll end up with a .ISO file which you'll need to burn to a DVD disc or a USB stick. You then boot from that device straight into Tails.

Tails is based on Linux and, as well as the anonymous web browser, includes a relatively full set of other features too. There's an office software suite, for example, if you need to create documents in complete privacy. Of course, you'll lose those documents when you exit Tails, but there's the option of creating an encrypted Persistent Disk area of a USB stick to which you can safely export them in encrypted form.

Tails really is the ultimate in online privacy, and has been used worldwide by some high-profile activists and campaigners. While it may be unnecessary for most people (thankfully!), it's a fascinating product. And because it runs independently of your existing operating system, it's very easy to download, play with, and then discard.

Tails is completely free to download and use.

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Just tried to access tails site now. ''Firefox can’t find the server at tails.boum.org.'' downloaded the .iso on the 31st. But couldn't get a checksum to test the file. Have not burned it for that reason. Now the site's down? what to think?

This download day, the 5th, Tails updated their OS software to version 5? from the 4? I downloaded. Most likely causing a verification problem. Since verizon dsl is so slow downloading, and I haven't been able to add the Tails extension to Firefox browser in Mint, I haven't pursued this. My intention was to have a secure OS to use on public wifi. Back to live distros.

The site is opening fine for me.

As an alternative (when using Tails in those nasty surroundings) I would just remove the harddrive entirely, and only use the USB or DVD boot.
This way - any writes can be prevented.


Whoooops - wasn't there some talk, that BIOS is Swiss cheese too - an easy victim to intelligence agencies to exploit?

I want to give this a try. I'm a little confused about the process. Can I just burn this file directly to my flash drive without using a program such as "Rufus" to create a bootable drive? That seems to be the implication. Thanks in advance for any help

Thanks, MC

eikelein :

No idea what stirred you up? I have a pretty good idea because the comment affected me the same way. I found the original article very informative and the disparaging comment pretty much the opposite. Both the original article and the negative post did stimulate a question for me.

My main reason for writing this post is to ask a question to those that have some knowledge of this program. Would it be defeating the purpose if this program if were run as a second boot on a dual-boot hard drive? Is it necessary to run the program from a DVD or thumb drive?


I don't beleiev that it is NECESSARY but certainly safer.
Everything stored on a disk drive can be written to unless the drive has a hardware write-protect feature.

And I believe the idea is that you can take a DVD or a USB drive easily with you to boot any computer you run across from your media, use and leave no trace of that on the machine itself.

"Any computer" only if you can turn Safe Boot in UEFI off...

it used to be a simple jumper lead but today few harddrives have a hardware write-protect feature.

I think the best idea is to turn off the harddrives using the CMOS then boot using a DVD and store on a USB key.

After just restore the CMOS.

Someone knows if using it in a virtual machine is useless?

"Tails really is the ultimate in online privacy, and has been used worldwide by some high-profile activists and campaigners." Huh! How can they be the ultimate in privacy if they allow their client list to be known? If they can't protect that, why should we assume they can protect any other data?

If you know something better then TAILS for this please let us know. It is a fantastic piece of software and any software if used by people that do not know can fail. It is not the software's fault but the user.

For us it gives to satisfy our curisoity by allows us to surf in places that only allow you to go in with TOR, however for many people like in Iran where I have friends their online privacy is worth much more then that. Its for these people that TOR was created and it was for these people my interest in TAILS was sparked when I first learnt about it here.

Will TAILS help them? Only to a fashion, as the ISP there is working for the goverment.  

However there is another problem if you face if you use TOR and that is tracking programs. If you read here


"To bypass Tor’s enhanced security measures, the FBI exploited a vulnerability in the browser and developed its own hack that allowed agents to infect computers with malware and collect unique IP and MAC addresses that could help accurately identify predators."

There is little any rootkit or antivirus can do to stop this, the only solution I can see is:

Get a cheap laptop, boot it up only from a DVD that has TAILS and use its harddrive only to store data like your dirty pictures, watch your dirty pictures only when the internet is OFF and never use this laptop on the net without TAILS. Only use this laptop with TAILS in a place that has public WIFI as the ISP in Iran works for the goverment.

Also update your TAILS regularly as its being improved all the time and unlike a word processor if your software has a bug  you can just restart, if your identity is exposed in Iran you do not get a second chance.

I'm someone who started out their Linux-life by first using Knoppix many years ago. It was intriguing to be able to run an OS from a (then) CD...

I'm now downloading TAILS to give it a spin!


Hardly a hot find as we have discussed it here several times,

Having said that its a brilliant program which I have used just to see what the dark side of the web looks like. Its not much.

Now a way of tracking someone that is in tails, is to secretly embeds on your drive a program which runs every time you run and it will send a message of your current IP address on it to some location. So the machine that loads tails should not have access to its regular boot up.

I also would suggest that if you are going to run tails either use a DVD or make a fresh copy from your harddrive of the ISO every time before you run it off the USB.  So no one can change its bootup.

Also update it regularly.


That is how some pedophiles were caught, not that I am sorry that they were.

I fully support MC's reply.
Honestly, your words are quite self-deprecating.

1. You wanted "just to see what the dark side of the web looks like". What itch did you have to scratch?

2. "Its not much": What, the dark side or Tails?

3. Tracking by "someone" modifying your USB stick? If you can't keep your USB stick safe you really don't need Tails - or anything else for that matter.

4. "So the machine that loads tails should not have access to its regular boot up": What? You can not keep rootkits off your computer or keep people from flashing your machine's BIOS/UEFI?

5. "Also update it regularly": Sage advice indeed - but you don't mention that this is true for every piece of software you regularly use.

I don't even know why all that rankled me so much.

It may have been discussed here several times but over 85% of visitors to this site are new and I'm sure plenty of our regular members might not be aware of this software. It would be helpful therefore if you could refrain from disparaging the efforts of other editors, especially those who are making a regular contribution with new content. MC - Site Manager.