Tails: Use the Net Anonymously, Anywhere—From a USB Stick

USB Stick Tails

Bring Internet anonymity with you in your pocket on a USB stick running Tails

Tails is an operating system that can be installed on a USB stick (or DVD or SD card) which can be used on any computer, anywhere without using the computer’s native operating system. It also keeps your identity and activities secret by using Tor.

It’s safe anonymity in your pocket—and can be brought along to a library, Internet café, work or wherever else you might want to go to use the Internet anonymously. It was recommended as nigh-on mandatory for journalists working on sensitive stories by security researcher Jacob Applebaum in his absolutely excellent speech on the NSA and net security at the 30th Chaos Communications Congress.

Via tails.boum.org:

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 DVD, USB stick, or SD card independently of the computer’s original operating system. It is Free Software and based on Debian GNU/Linux…

Using Tails on a computer doesn’t 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 or one at your local library. After shutting down Tails, the computer can start again on its usual operating system.

You can download Tails here.

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Jason Louv Hyperworlds Underworlds
Jason Louv Hyperworlds Underworlds
  • Zane Grey Alexander

    Have you used it yet Jason?

  • Glenn Kelley

    This sounds cool – but most places have shut down the ability to utilize USB on boot.

  • Izaran

    If it uses Tor, don’t be so sure. Tor is not as safe as other VPNs. Because the Tor network is so popular, it’s already been cracked by government agencies.


    Use a paid VPN service. They aren’t expensive if you look overseas.

    • James Gray

      Has it really? A cursory google search says they’re trying hard, and have found one or two roundabout ways to get what they want, but had no real success with cracking the core of the network.

      So, do you have any real evidence (and can you name how they did it), or is this just speculation based on the popularity of the network, as you stated.

      Also, simply establishing an SSTP (or even worse, PPTP) connection to somebody else’s network and having your outgoing traffic NATed out their gateway gives you a single point of failure. How do you know you can even trust your VPN provider?

      • Byby

        SO you think if there is no evidence that spec. gov. services cracked the core or whatever.png you think they did not? Leave a gap for possibility. Not saying that it cracked the system but don’t rule that out also even if there is no evidence.

        • James Gray

          I’m not sure what the point you’re trying to make is… Tor could have been cracked, SSL could have been cracked, your VPN provider could really be the NSA, your hardware could have a secret backdoor. What exactly are you trying to suggest by saying that these things might have happened?

  • Will Mickelson

    With Tor, doesn’t it still give out IP’s so you can trace it back to location? And than the computer gives the MAC address to the wireless router? If you were to use your laptop?

    • http://fedgeno.com/ Fedge

      No. That’s the whole point of Tor.

    • http://fedgeno.com/ Fedge

      Your requests are made from randomized IPs and all communication in the local network is encrypted. A local network admin could see that you’re connected to their router but they can’t see what you’re accessing.

      • Will Mickelson

        How can a computer on the tor network not see what I’m acessing?
        My Ip — Changed IP on tor server —— Server where website is located — Sends things back to Tor Server to change Ip —- So, doesn’t it just make it so more warrants need to be issued to trace it back to you?

        • http://fedgeno.com/ Fedge

          It’s not just one server. It’s everyone who’s using Tor and the individual nodes do not know who’s traffic they are forwarding. All of this information is available on their FAQ page TBH. Running Skype over Tor would be pointless as it would connect to Microsoft to report your activity anyway even if it did work.

        • http://fedgeno.com/ Fedge

          The exit nodes (these change) that make the actual requests to the server can see the traffic they are forwarding (which changes with each request AFAIK). That’s why you’d still use encryption (https) to connect to the actual servers.

      • Will Mickelson

        Can you use skype on the Tor network?

  • Jacob Lageveen

    Linux bootable from an USB stick. Put TOR on it and you´re good to go as well.