The Amnesic Incognito Live System or TAILS is a live system that aims to preserve privacy and anonymity which is very important when accessing the deep web. TAILS encrypts all local files, blocks all non-secure connections, runs every internet connection through Tor and provides a suite of secure communication tools.
What is most useful about the OS though is the fact that it doesn’t store anything on the hard drive. The only storage space used is the RAM which is automatically erased when the computer shuts down.
The system is entirely forgetful, which means that every time you reboot, any data created such as keys, PGP, installed applications, wallets, etc, during previous use of TAILS will be lost without a trace.
This is where the “amnesic” part of the name comes from. Sensitive documents can still be saved to another external device of your choosing but unless you specifically do that.
As it is not made to be run on a virtual machine, the TAILS OS provides the ability to configure persistent storage, which reserves a bit of space on a USB stick or SD Card to allow configuration files and data to carry over between each reboot.
TAILS use Tor to connect to the internet and block any attempts to connect directly to the Internet. All the software it comes with is configured to automatically connect using the Tor network. TAILS include a custom applet, called OpenPGP Applet, to manipulate text using OpenPGP.
Although it is a bit more of a hassle and time consuming, the additional features the OS serves to protect the user identity make it worth installing. This manual aims to provide step by step instructions on how to download, install, and start using TAILS.
According to the TAILS website those are the hardware requirements:
- A USB stick of 8 GB minimum or a recordable DVD.
- The ability to start from a USB stick or a DVD reader.
- A 64-bit x86-64 compatible processor:
- 2 GB of RAM to work smoothly. Tails can work with less than 2 GB RAM but might behave strangely or crash.
- Download the latest version of the software from its official website on https://tails.boum.org/install/#first_time
- Once it is done, verify the integrity of the ISO image to make sure that you have not been a victim of a man-in-the-middle attack (MitM).
- Run OpenPGP to check the integrity of what you just downloaded with their signing key.
You now have to decide whether or not you want to burn it to a DVD or use Tails Installer to put it onto a USB stick / SD card.
- Insert the DVD or USB stick / SD card and restart the computer. If the OS does not boot up then you will have to go into your BIOS and change the boot order to put whatever drive you want to boot from first on the list. You can get to the BIOS settings menu by pushing the key that is prompted when starting up the computer.
- Once you have changed the boot order then just restart your computer again and TAILS will start.
- During the bootup process, press the Boot Menu Key, usually F12 or esc, and select Boot TAILS from your USB drive.
- Follow the instructions on the Welcome to TAILS prompt.
There is more documentation on their website for how to use all the functions of TAILS but it is intuitive and very self-explanatory. It provides a safe way for you to browse the web, access the Deep Web, and work with sensitive documents while keeping your privacy and anonymity.
Right up with Whonix, TAILS is one of the best and more secure OS to access the darknet. However, if this sounds like too much of a hassle and you want an OS that can be run in the background while you are doing other work then try Whonix instead.