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Tails: A Live OS For Paranoid People

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Tails is a live system that aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly.

It is a complete operating system designed to be used from a USB stick or a DVD independently of the computer’s original operating system. It is Free Software and based on Debian GNU/Linux. It comes with several built-in applications pre-configured with security in mind: web browser, instant messaging client, email client, office suite, image and sound editor, etc.

Using Tails on a computer does not alter or depend on the operating system installed on it. So you can use it in the same way on your computer, a friend’s computer, or even one at your local library. After shutting down Tails, the computer will start again with its usual operating system.

It 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 in RAM, which is automatically erased when the computer shuts down. So you will not leave any trace on the computer either of the Tails system itself or what you used it for. That is why we call Tails “amnesic”.

This allows you to work with sensitive documents on any computer and protects you from data recovery after shutdown. Of course, you can still explicitly save specific documents to another USB stick or external hard-disk and take them away for future use.

Tails also comes with a selection of tools to protect your data using strong encryption:

  • Encrypt your USB sticks or external hard-disks using LUKS, the Linux standard for disk-encryption.
  • Automatically use HTTPS to encrypt all your communications to a number of major websites using HTTPS Everywhere, a Firefox extension developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  • Encrypt and sign your emails and documents using the de facto standard OpenPGP either from Tails email client, text editor or file browser.
  • Protect your instant messaging conversations using OTR, a cryptographic tool that provides encryption, authentication and deniability.
  • Securely delete your files and clean your disk space using Nautilus Wipe.

You can check out Tails here: https://tails.boum.org/index.en.html

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