Which operating system is the safest?
We understand anonymity as a state where the user's identity is unknown and privacy as a state where the user is not monitored. Due to the overall design of the internet, this goal is not easy to achieve. However, there is a so-called TOR network that allows users to communicate and browse the web anonymously. The popular TOR Browser for accessing the darker corners of the web is one of the programs that can connect to this network. How the TOR network works and how user anonymity and privacy are ensured is also fascinating and I will write more about in future articles.
TAILS – The Amnestic Incognito Live System
Common operating systems and programs are constantly collecting data about users – about you. You can use the aforementioned TOR Browser to surf the internet anonymously, but only TOR Browser communication is routed through this network. Data and information can still be leaked through other installed programs, the misuse of which can lead to the discovery of your identity.
The TAILS operating system solves this problem very elegantly. It is a Linux distribution that is very low on computing resources and is primarily intended for use as a "Live system". This means that it can simply be loaded from an external disk or small USB flash drive when the computer boots. An important feature of this system is that all network traffic is routed through the aforementioned TOR network. It is recommended not to store any important information in this system, as with each new use TAILS is set to its default settings. This minimises the risks associated with revealing the user's identity. However, it is also possible to set up a persistent folder whose contents will be preserved with a new load.
The system has a modern and intuitive user interface and anyone with a basic knowledge of Linux systems should have no problem working with it. The operating system is freely downloadable and a disk image for installation on removable media can be found on the official website at tails.boum.org.
Although TAILS can be considered a relatively safe operating system, there is still one imperfection. The whole system works with only one disk. If you want to work with multiple disks, where you would store sensitive information, one would run untrusted programs and another would be used for normal activities, you would always have to start a new TAILS system from a different removable media.
This method is of course possible, but unsustainable. This is where the Qubes OS comes in. This system can divide a computer's computing resources between logically separate domains, which can be thought of as virtual machines on top of the operating system. Each domain has its own CPU, operating memory and disk, and functions as a separate unit. In some ways, however, domains can also communicate with each other. It is extremely difficult for a potential attacker to navigate this system once it has been infiltrated. The fact that each domain has its own computing resources is closely related to the fact that Qubes OS is much more computationally intensive than TAILS.
It is possible to dynamically work with and switch between domains. Each has its own specific use. For example, the Disposable domain is for testing and running untrusted programs, and its contents are removed every time the operating system starts. The Work domain is for normal user work, and the Untrusted domain is for web browsing. The Vault domain does not have an internet connection and its purpose is to store sensitive user data.
The Qubes OS operating system does not have as intuitive a user interface as TAILS, but with a little effort even a user with basic Linux knowledge can quickly get their bearings in it. The operating system is available for free download and a disk image for installation on removable media can be found on the official website at www.qubes-os.org.
Most users take cybersecurity lightly. But privacy is extremely important and people should protect it. We often don't realise how much information operating systems and various programs collect and analyse about us. Even though we live in the information age, anonymity and privacy can be achieved. Here, too, however, it turns out that every pro has its con. The fact that users today are able to achieve complete anonymity on the internet plays into the hands of illegal activities, which can be achieved very easily via the Dark Web, i.e. the "dark side of the internet".