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Tails Tails report for September, 2016

Discussion in 'TOR | TAILS' started by survivalmonkey, Oct 10, 2016.

  1. survivalmonkey

    survivalmonkey Monkey+++


    The following changes were introduced in Tails 2.6:

    • We enabled address space layout randomization in the Linux kernel (kASLR) to improve protection from buffer overflow attacks.

    • We installed rngd to improve the entropy of the random numbers generated on computers that have a hardware random number generator.

    • Install firmware for Intel SST sound cards (firmware-intel-sound), and Texas Instruments Wi-Fi interfaces (firmware-ti-connectivity).

    • Remove non-free APT repositories. We documented how to configure additional APT repositories using the persistent volume.

    • Use a dedicated page as the homepage of Tor Browser so we can customize it for our users (Although the content of the website is still the same!)

    • Set up the trigger for RAM erasure on shutdown earlier in the boot process. This should speed up shutdown and make RAM erasure more robust.

    • Disable the automatic configuration of Icedove when using OAuth. This should fix the automatic configuration for GMail accounts. (#11536)

    • Make the Disable all networking and Tor bridge mode options of Tails Greeter more robust. (#11593)

    Tor ControlPort filter improvements and OnionShare integration

    These two things might seem unrelated but are mentioned together because the work on the latter required the former.

    Summary: users can expect OnionShare, a tool to share files from Tails over an onion service, in Tails 2.8 and perhaps the per-tab circuit view of Tor Browser will be enabled as well.

    Background: the ControlPort of Tor has a rather large attack surface in case of a compromise as it exposes sensitive information and allows reconfiguring Tor and possibly deanonymize you. However some applications require some access to the ControlPort to improve user experience, like showing which circuits are used for a tab in Tor Browser or for OnionShare to tell Tor to start the hidden service used to share files. In Tails we've been giving most users access to a filtered version of the Tor ControlPort, which only expose "safe" commands.

    This filter has been very simplistic until now, as it essentially only exposed the SIGNAL NEWNYM command, to make Tor use new circuits. Because of the complexity to support events (asynchronisity) and potential security concerns of exposing Tor's stream/circuit state we for instance disabled the per-tab circuit view in Tor Browser, and were forced to run Onion Circuits as a separate user (than the normal amnesia user) with full access to the Tor ControlPort. Notably, it could not support OnionShare, and in fact had architectural-level limitations, for example not being able to handle multiple sessions at the same time.

    Now the filter solves all these problems, and more. Depending on the PID of the client (for example OnionShare) it will pick a filter defined (by us) specifically for that application. For instance, we can say that "this $user (e.g. amnesia) when running this $application (e.g. /usr/bin/onionshare) can only run these commands (ADD_ONION etc.) and listen to these events (e.g. HS_DESC, which is expected after a successful use of ADD_ONION)". This makes user-separation (which has UX issues, like loss of accessibility support, and adds to code complexity) an obsolete security measure, and to benefit from it clients have to do nothing.

    Note that there is at least one other project that already has implemented this functionality, Subgraph with its roflcoptor, which we probably should have put our efforts at instead, but let's say that it is our long-term goal on this front. At least our users will be able to enjoy these features in Tails much sooner, which is great in itself.

    Documentation and website

    • We published our roadmap for 2016-2017.

    • We designed a new donation page which proposes tax-deducible donations in both euros, through Zwiebelfreunde and dollars, through RiseupLabs.

    • We documented how we use the different fields of our bugtracker. This took a while, but led to several nice discussions on the mailing list meanwhile and helped to make the process more clear.

    • We worked with Monkeysign on documenting it for Tails and for the new documentation website of Monkeysign itself.

    • We made the overview pages of the installation assistant more compact.

    • 404 ISO images were automatically built and tested by our continuous integration infrastructure.

    • We prepared a donation campaign that we will roll out in early October.

    • We submitted a proposal for NLnet to fund coding sprint on porting Tails to Debian Stretch.

    • We added a footer on the answers of our help desk to encourage the people that we are helping to contribute to its cost.
    On-going discussions

    See the September 2016 online meeting minutes.


    All the website

    • de: 55% (2874) strings translated, 5% strings fuzzy, 49% words translated
    • fa: 45% (2338) strings translated, 7% strings fuzzy, 50% words translated
    • fr: 78% (4070) strings translated, 3% strings fuzzy, 76% words translated
    • it: 30% (1589) strings translated, 3% strings fuzzy, 27% words translated
    • pt: 30% (1586) strings translated, 8% strings fuzzy, 28% words translated

    Total original words: 52401

    Core pages of the website

    • de: 84% (1571) strings translated, 8% strings fuzzy, 84% words translated
    • fa: 39% (726) strings translated, 9% strings fuzzy, 40% words translated
    • fr: 91% (1698) strings translated, 6% strings fuzzy, 91% words translated
    • it: 81% (1522) strings translated, 9% strings fuzzy, 81% words translated
    • pt: 50% (942) strings translated, 12% strings fuzzy, 51% words translated

    Total original words: 16935


    • Tails has been started more than 580651 times this month. This makes 19355 boots a day on average.
    • 12451 downloads of the OpenPGP signature of Tails ISO from our website.
    • 119 bug reports were received through WhisperBack.

    Continue reading...
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