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Staying Safe on the Deep with TAILS

This tutorial is about getting into the deep web in a easy and more secured way.

When you access the deep web simply by downloading Tor into your computer, you are putting yourself at risk. First, you are leaving traces on your computer that you access the deep web (unless you delete and download Tor every time you want to go deeper, which is painfully annoying). Also, someone else that can reach your computer may find some unpleasant information, and you probably have some personal documents, pictures, videos, etc. that can be stolen. Thus, it’s imperative to get an operating system that resets every time it is opened which doesn’t compromise your work!

So, what we propose is to use a bootable pen running another operating system (it can be done for many operating systems but this is an in-depth Tails guide) and boot your computer directly from that pen drive. If someone tries to hack you, he probably won’t get his hands on important data.

TAILS stands for The Amnesic Incognito Live System and it is a live operating system (which means you can boot it from a pen drive) that provides its users extra layers of privacy and anonymity. Click here to read our previous article on TAILS

How to Install and Use TAILS

Step 1: Click here to go to the Tails download page and click on Download and verify via BitTorrent > Download Torrent file. Tails is currently in version 2.9.1, so we advise you to download it directly from their website, to avoid malicious intentions towards your safety.

Alternatively, you can go to the Tails main page and click on the big green button on the right, and follow the Tails Installation Assistant which is very intuitive.

If you have Firefox or Tor already installed on your computer, you can download it using a browser add-on. Otherwise, you will download the torrent file (you can use μTorrent to read this file and extract all the information later).

When your torrent has downloaded 100% of the data, you should get a folder with a .iso file. This single file is the whole operating system to install on a pen drive.

Tails’ programmers strongly advise to get 2 pen drives with 4GB each, and first download Tails on one pen as an intermediary pen, and later use that intermediary pen with a fresh operating system to clone Tails to a final pen drive. This is mandatory in case you want to store some data later in the pen drive so you don’t lose important stuff. It also allows for automatic security upgrades.

Step 2: Now that you have your .iso file, you need a software that installs it on your pen drive. Tails website’s suggestion is the Universal USB Installer which allows you to input any Linux operating system into a pen drive!

Alternatively, you can download Linux Live USB Creator, also called LiLi. However, this last one won’t recognize the latest versions of Tails and will downgrade it to version 1.5, so you may want to stick with the first option.

Run Universal USB Installer and it will ask for a pen drive to install a certain operative system. We will choose Tails, select the path of the .iso file we have just downloaded and choose our pen drive where we want to install Tails (remember this is not the final pen drive).

In step 1 inside the installer, you can press ‘T’ on your keyboard and it should direct you to Tails option.

Step 3: You will need to select the .iso file path so the installer can install that file on your pen.

Step 4: In the last step of the setup, just select the pen drive you wish to use! Select the pen, and check the “Format E:\” option which will erase all the data, so if you have any documents you want to save you might want to do a quick backup right now. Click “Create”.

Step 5: Then a confirmation popup will appear. Press “Yes”.

Then the magic will happen automatically.

Alright!

Step 6: Now that you installed Tails on the first pen, shut down your computer, plug the pen drive in and reboot the computer. If you are lucky enough, your computer will automatically boot from pen drive. Otherwise, you will need to press a key to access “Boot Menu” – usually the key appears on the first screen when you start the computer and should be one of these keys: ESC, DEL, F11 or F12 – and go to “Boot Options” and press the “Boot from pen” option. If you have any questions just search here.

You can also check out this guide on Youtube showing what will appear when you boot Tails from the pen drive.

Inside Tails, we want to clone the operating system. First, you must check whether you have the latest version of Tails (currently 2.9.1 released on 2016-12-14) or not. If you do, go to the top left part of the screen and choose Applications > Tails > Tails Installer. Then just select the first option “Install by cloning”. It will run automatically and in the end, you just need to remove the USB, shut down computer, and restart from the new cloned pen. Here’s a guide that explains very well how to do it.

After you have the final pen drive ready, you may format the intermediary pen and use it as a normal pen drive!

The hard work is done, so it’s time for some recommendations

In case you are not familiar at all with the deeper levels, you should know that you are in constant danger. It doesn’t mean that every time you access it you will have your computer shut down and information stolen. It means you should be very careful with whatever you do, because on the other side of the screen there will be someone waiting for you to slip.

Our first recommendation is for you to separate personal life from your online life. Don’t mix things, don’t use the same emails, names, or whatever information. Nowadays is easy to track somebody, and even if you don’t notice, you expose your data in a lot of places, so you may want to keep your public and social life away. Also, you may want to access deep web in a public coffee-shop using Tails. It doesn’t compromise your home network and it will be harder to trace things back to you.

Bridges – We recommend you to search for Tor Bridges. The name is self-explanatory and they are used to get extra layers of anonymity. Bridges are relay nodes that are not listed in Tor directory. If your ISP (internet provider) censors freedom and filters your connections, they probably won’t be able to block all the bridges. Tor provides some bridges by default, but since these bridges are public, it is easy for your ISP to block them.

In order to get bridges, you can either (1) go to and ask for bridges (the captcha code is sometimes annoying) or (2) send an email to [email protected] (you must send with Gmail or Yahoo) with the text “get bridges” (don’t do this from your personal email).

You should be aware how Tor works. It is composed of nodes which serve intermediaries between you and the final website and its information retrieved. However, these nodes are being listed publicly. Also, if someone owns a great part of these nodes, they should be able to track someone through correlation. Despite the information remaining encrypted inside the Tor network, when it passes through the exit node if won’t be encrypted anymore. Since these nodes are being listed publicly and some entity may own the greater part of them, it is a secure measure to add a bridge to your connection (usually people use this when the ISP doesn’t even let you get inside Tor).

VPN – Virtual Private Network or VPN is the extension of a private network across the Internet. For example, if you work in a company and you are at home, if you enter your company’s VPN you will get access to the network as if you were inside the company’s building. This is useful when there is censorship. There are some VPN providers online which basically put you in a different country, to add extra layer of security. There are free and paid VPN’s. However, you should remember that free services make money out of somewhere (in this case, they probably will make money by selling your data to other companies. Even if they say they don’t, they might be doing it). Since this is supposed to be a guide to any random person in the internet, we will recommend a free VPN called CyberGhost which also has a paid version. Keep in mind that there nothing is 100% anonymous in a network (your computer, router, satellite and every other part participating in the process are all identified by different ID’s and serials, and it might be possible for someone to reach you).

Wallets – a lot of people accessing the deep web also use Bitcoin or other Altcoins. We won’t go into detail on this, but we can inform you that the Tails pen drive we just created has Electrum wallet included and you can manage your bitcoin transactions through it. Since your data will be wiped in the end of the session, if you wish to save a backup of your wallet (.dat file) you want to enable persistent storage in the pen.

Click here to check out TAILS’ final warnings/recommendations

 

9 comments

  1. Way to go!! What a great article!!! Some further recommendations:

    1) A hardware encrypted USB would go perfect with Tails! Just be sure to buy anonymously, paying in cash. Keep your USB drive hidden in a small, airtight glass jar located in a high and secure place.

    2) Use anonymous public Wi-Fi whenever possible. Keep a low profile, of course! A security screen is recommend.

    3) A Tails persistent storage container is a must; TrueCrypt volumes can also be mounted within Tails. See their website for more details.

    4) All passphrases need to be 40+ characters long. Choose something obscure but easy for you to remember; toss in some random characters (preferably, 8 to 12) in the middle of your passphrase for good measure.

  2. Great work

    Setting up TAILS on a Windows computer and using Tails even through it is the most targeted and most commonly used Linux based privacy and security focused OS.

    Everyone who thinks they are some mysterious hacker uses Tails and openly tells their peers/family about their deep web activity

    Crock of shit, use ANY OTHER Linux based OS with security and Privacy in mind but just try not to use Tails, it’s so common it’s only obvious that it will be targeted by an Attacker.

    TAILS was great but like TOR, it’s been exploited and made well known by the average no knowledge computer user looking to get high or make easy $$

  3. Ad 1): Can you boot from the hardware encrypted stick? What are the makes you are using and how much did they cost?
    Ad KPTX: Why is the download not verified?

  4. Additional security add-ons with Tails: Use your USB in conjunction with hardware forensic write-blocker device; remove wifi/bluetooth card from laptop and use external USB wifi card with separate MAC card you only use on darkweb. Mix all bitcoin and use cash ATM. Be conscious of other things that can associate you with TOR use at a coffee shop (your phone GPS and 4G triangulation, credit cards, car GPS, car e-toll usage).

  5. Hi all, I’m trying to do a little survey and above all to find a way to be on the Internet as much as safe as you probably know, there are many ways and these ways even more opinion and therefore I would be very glad to any user this group expressed replies to polls, and possibly commented and held discussion and opposition. There are therefore methods:
    Which option you think is the safest at this time?
    A: I use Windows – Tor – socks – VPN
    B: I use Linux – Tor – socks – VPN
    C: I use only Linus tails – VPN – TOR
    D: i use Another Way,
    and is better to start Tails on Linux OS or Windows OS?

    AND If you join to internet, do you always join from public places (library, cybercafe) or at home

    i hope that answers will be normal and help users to stay safe

    Thank you a lot for your time, and stay safe 
    Good luck for the future

  6. “C” and always use Linux (including with Tails). However, the VPN/TOR question brings up a multitude of debate. VPN+TOR allows a company to see all your activity while your ISP is unable to see that you are using TOR, while TOR alone means your ISP can see you are using TOR (and you are vulnerable to timing analysis). All depends on threat model. Does that make sense?

    I would humbly submit that if you are using TOR at a public wifi spot you do not need to worry about trying to combine TOR with a VPN. Things become all together more complicated if you are using TOR from home, running a hidden service, being a vendor, etc, etc.

    Perhaps most important thing is separating your clear-net identity from your dark-net person. So for example you use a pretty good VPN for things like Facebook while using a completely different wifi adapter and Tails/TOR while on darknet.

  7. thank you a lot, just 2 details
    is better to start tails on windows 7 or linux, and which version of linux

    and second, i reed about vpn tor and tails, and somebody say, that best way have 2 options:
    1. start tails, – tor and than vpn
    2. tails – vpn – tor – second VPN, and the firts have to be the most trustable
    what do you think?

  8. One questions
    how to instal cyberGhost and some PGP software in tails?
    i really can find it….. so if you will get me some answers, it will be fine, and i trust that i could help a lot of users

  9. PGP software is included in tails. you will find it.
    but how to use any vpn on tails?

    better to use vpn+tor on common os or just tor on tails w/out vpn?

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