Tails Security Update: 3.6.1

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Inside the security and bug fixes in Tails’ 3.6.1 version, along with install and upgrade tips.

On March 18, The Amnesic Incognito Live System released Tails Security Update 3.6.1. It fixes several security issues and users are advised to upgrade as soon as possible.

In this article, we are focusing on the main changes and issues.

Your TOR usage is being watched

Security and Bug Fixes

In order to fix security issues, the Tor browser was upgraded to 7.5.2 on March 17, removing a critical problem in Firefox revealed a day prior.

It is related a specific bug which resulted in an out of bounds memory write in processing Vorbis audio data. This flaw was reported during the annual Pwn2Own contest earlier this month.

Moreover, the libtremor library, which also carried the flaw, is now corrected.

According to the changelog, libvorbis, curl and samba were upgraded to evade security flaws.

In Tails 3.6.1, Bug #15400 is fixed and this release is reproducible, in contrast to Tails 3.6.

Looking at Ongoing Issues

There are no issues specific to this release, but here you can see the list of long-standing issues common for all versions:

  1. Problems with USB sticks

Manufacturers often configure SanDisk USB sticks as a fixed disk; that is why they ask you to remove the “live media removable” boot parameter in order to start Tails properly.

PNY sticks’ users often experience issues with constant write load. If Aegis’ Secure Key USB 2.0 is used, the PIN must be entered to complete the boot. During this process, USB is temporarily powered off and sticks get locked down.

The 3.0 version of Aegis’ Secure Key USB is unable to start Tails. Kingston’s DataTraveler 2000 is also inappropriate for Tails boot.

  1. Graphic issues

Some computers fail to start the GNOME desktop—they freeze after the Tails Greeter with an error message requesting that the user contact a system administrator.

Some systems with switchable graphics fail to choose a video card, causing the screen to go black. The interface also fails to start on some Intel graphics adapters. All graphic issues have several workarounds, which are described on the “known issues” webpage.

  1. Security issues

Tails does not erase video memory if you restart a computer into another operating system. Instead, you should shut down the computer completely.

Sometimes Tails cannot turn off entirely or restart; in this case, the memory may be not entirely wiped.

  1. Other issues

In Tails, Bluetooth devices do not work for security reasons. The Tor browser is translated in a limited number of languages. Additionally, when you connect to Tor, Tails sets the system to the UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) time zone.

This means that if you’re located east of the U.K. with a Windows-run computer, Tails will cause the system’s clock to read backwards during the startup process, resulting in software errors.

How to Install and Upgrade

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On March 18, The Amnesic Incognito Live System released Tails Security Update 3.6.1. It fixes several security issues and users are advised to upgrade as soon as possible.

In order to install Tails 3.6.1, you should follow the installation instructions. Upon answering several questions, an installation scenario will be chosen and you will be guided step-by-step, making the process user-friendly and easy.

Also, you can skip Installation Assistant and download Tails directly.

An automatic upgrade from 3.6 to 3.6.1 is available. In case of failure to start an automatic upgrade, you are encouraged to try a manual upgrade.

You can upgrade from another Tails version by simply cloning the already updated 3.6.1 version, or upgrade inside Tails, which requires Your Tails USB stick and another empty USB stick (at least 8 GB).

A manual upgrade from Tails versions 3.2 to 3.5 is possible only in the English language, while for other languages, the file-chooser button remains inactive:

Further Updates

The Amnesic Incognito Live System is scheduled to release Tails 3.7 for May 8. Their priorities for the next version are focused on improving Tails’ features such as resistance to remote exploitation and sustainability of core code.

They also aim at community growth, which can be achieved by explaining better what Tails is and improving installation instructions. The Amnesic Incognito Live System also aims to improve Tails’ accessibility to make it usable among blind users.

Teonanacatl

Teonanacatl

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