Secure Linux distribution Tails has reached the milestone of a version 1.0 release, after its developers crushed a laundry list of bugs.
The Debian-based operating system is a “live OS” - it boots from removable media rather than a hard disk. It also funnels all data through Tor and uses a smattering of cryptography and anonymising tools to help users circumvent censorship and lock out snoops and spooks. For example, Tails encrypts storage devices using the Linux Unified Key Setup, uses the HTTPS Everywhere tool to encrypt web traffic, and locks down emails with OpenPGP and protects instant messages with Off The Record.
Version 1.0 status is apt because the release quashes numerous nasty flaws. Detailed here, the fixes include client-side blacklists for Tor directory authority keys vulnerable to the headline-grabbing Heartbleed bug that mean Tails 1.0 clients will be protected even if attackers compromised a majority of authority signing and identity keys.
Other fixes include an upgrade to Mozilla Firefox ESR portable version 24.5.0, plus repairs to ensure I2P connections remain safe and to an Open Java Development Kit flaw that allowed execution of arbitrary code.
Tor is a significant irritant to law enforcement authorities: US agencies have labelled it “the King of high secure, low latency Internet Anonymity” and suggested it has no likely heir.
Tails' reliance on Tor means that opinion holds true, but with the new OS now available here, the NSA et al look to have another type of entity to crown or damn. ®