Steve Smith talks about Tails, the process of obtaining this anonymous operating system, and how to use it correctly online to avoid detection.
Released: March 9, 2013
There are times you need to use any computer you can get your hands on, and want to go online without divulging who you are, or where you are. These are the times for today's project.
What you will need is a USB Key or Watch, I'm going to use a USB watch, a blank DVD, and an operating system called Tails.
Tails stands for The Amnesiac Incognito Live System. The live operating system, which is Tails, is a form of Debian GNU/Linux, which has been specifically made never to alter your hard drives in your system, and uses the RAM instead of a hard drive swap space because it is erased automatically when the computer is shut down. Tails uses and relies on Tor to maintain your privacy.
To get Tails, head over to http://tails.boum.org/. Download the ISO, follow their instructions to make sure you have the correct version and not a fake, and then burn it to a DVD.
To get Tails onto a USB thumb drive, or USB watch like I've done, load Tails from the DVD. Once loaded, go to applications, Tails, then Tails USB Installer. Note: once you have it on your USB watch or thumb drive, you can also make your friends clones of your Tails operating system to allow them to be anonymous online.
What can you do with this new anonymous operating system?
You can surf the internet, use open office, edit pictures, etc... It is basically just a live Linux distribution. The only thing you need to remember is, that there is no guarantee that anything you do will remain once you power off, which is kind of the point.
Is this truly anonymous and is it possible to be detected on the internet?
Yes and no. We know what Tor is, and we must understand that many governments may host and log exit nodes, this being said, there is also no guarantee someone is looking specifically at you. It is also possible to detect someone using Tor, if you are the only person using it in a given geographic location.
Is there a way to make this safer for everyone?
Yes. If you share copies of Tails to your family members, friends, neighbors, etc... and they share it to others, and you get enough people using Tails, and Tor, then there will be more Tor traffic online. You will, for all intensive purposes, disappear amongst the traffic and may be rendered virtually invisible. Bare in mind, your ISP is capable of determining your usage of Tor and Tails, but not necessarily able to determine what you are looking at in this case.
Can I use it to shop online?
This is a question I've been asked before, and the short answer is don't shop online, anonymously. When you use a credit card, you are expected to be in a given geographical location, using Tails, or Tor, can make you look like you in a different part of the world, if the exit node is in a different part of the world. This may flag the transaction of fraudulent, and can lead to the cancellation of your credit card, and any associated accounts.
Any other tips?
Avoid logging into any account while online using this operating system. You will immediately identify yourself and no longer be anonymous, if you login into a web-site. You should also be aware that various web-sites like Youtube, are not Tor Friendly, so you may not be able to view content of various types online.
Next week, have you ever so epically failed in your online adventures that you have been infected with viruses known as Scareware? Well, regardless of the answer, be a local hero, and learn how to completely clean the slate that is the hard drive so no part of the infection survives, and thusly learn how to destroy any evidence of any wrong doing on your hard drives, lest the need be, next week, same time, same place.
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Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions
It should remove all traces of the virus, provided the hard drive has no bad sectors on it. It it does, you the mentioned Spinrite to try to fix the hard drive then run DBAN after, but usually, DBAN can erase the entire drive without issue. I've used it on maximum and let it run almost 16 hours on my friends computer, that is why this episode exists.
Great! I am going to run 'autonuke' on a machine that has polymorphic malware, not sure if it is in the MBR or somewhere else on the machine. Assuming autonuke runs fully without any error, will it remove the malware from the computer with certainty?
Yes, it will wipe all data, including the master boot record on your hard drive. If you are unable to get DBAN to work correctly, consider using Spinrite to fix the drive so DBAN can work, rarely needed, good to have.