Tails above the Rest, Part II
Now that you have Tails installed, let's start using it.
I'm halfway through what will likely be a three-part series on the Tails live disk. In the first column, I introduced Tails as a special distribution of Linux, based on Debian, that puts all sorts of privacy- and security-enhancing tools in a live disk you can boot anywhere. Then I talked about how to download and install the distribution securely on a CD or USB disk. In this article, I'm going to follow up with a general overview of the Tails desktop and highlight some of the software you are most likely to use within it. In my next column, I'll cover some of the more advanced features of Tails, including the persistent disk and encryption.
Before I talk too much about the security features of Tails, I think it's important to highlight the limitations that Tails has. Although Tails is incredibly useful and makes it much easier to use the Internet securely, it still isn't a magical solution that will solve all of your privacy problems. Before you use Tails, it's important to know where its limitations are and beyond that, mistakes that you might make that could remove some of the protections Tails does have.
Tails uses Tor to anonymize your Internet use, but that within itself has limitations. First, Tails doesn't attempt to hide the fact that you are using Tor or Tails, so if others can sniff the traffic leaving your network, while they may not be able to tell what Web sites you are browsing, they still can tell you are using Tor itself. So, if you are in a situation where you may get into trouble for using Tor, Tails out of the box won't protect you. Second, although traffic between you and Tor and between Tor nodes is encrypted, traffic that leaves Tor is not necessarily encrypted. Tails, like the Tor browser bundle, adds extensions to its Web browser to attempt to use HTTPS-encrypted sites whenever possible, but if you send an unencrypted e-mail or browse to an unencrypted Web site, the traffic leaving Tor still would be unencrypted. Along the same lines, you also still may be vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks launched from a malicious Tor exit node itself or from an attacker between the Tor exit node and the site you want to visit, so you still need to pay attention to any certificate warnings you see in your browser.
Generally speaking, Tails doesn't scrub your Internet traffic or any documents you create for any identifying metadata. If you decide to log in to a social-networking site from inside Tails and then browse to other sites that integrate with that login, even though those sites will see that the traffic came from a Tor exit node and not from your personal computer, cookies and other identifying metadata from the social-networking site will out you. Generally speaking, you don't want to do anything within a single browsing session in Tails that may link on-line identities (like an e-mail account, social-networking login and the like) that you don't want linked. Likewise, if you write a document or edit a photo within Tails, it won't automatically remove any metadata that contains identifying information.
Kyle Rankin is a VP of engineering operations at Final, Inc., the author of a number of books including DevOps Troubleshooting and The Official Ubuntu Server Book, and is a columnist for Linux Journal. Follow him @kylerankin.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
Free to Linux Journal readers.Register Now!
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