Are you worried about your privacy and/or security on the Internet? Well, you should be if you’re not. In this age, there are many reasons that should make you think twice about your privacy and security online. Security includes keeping safe from prying eyes looking to sniff data or identity for fraudulent activities. For the average user, keeping an updated version of your favorite Linux distro should be good enough. That is Ubuntu, Fedora, SUSE and all your usual distros should be quite ok so long as you’re keeping them updated. You can also employ tools such as Tor and OpenPGP to raise your level of security. Trust me, your everyday distro does a whole lot better at security than Windows and MacOS do offer especially when it comes to most malware, viruses and spyware.
So what if these everyday distros won’t cut it for you and you require something more, something built with security particularly in mind? Well, there is entire world of Linux distros designed with security and privacy in mind. These distros have grown in popularity over the years the more we get to know about our need to stay safe online.
So let’s dive in and look at a few of these distros.
5 Best Privacy Centric Linux Distributions
TAILS is an acronym that stands for The Amnesiac Incognito Live System. TAILS is a live operating system based on Debian that provides security mainly through anonymity. By default, TAILS uses the Tor network for all of its internet traffic to ensure that you leave no digital footprint while surfing the web. TAILS runs from a USB disk and saves all your data to RAM ensuring that nothing is saved once the session is over. All your files, emails and messaging are encrypted by employing cryptographic tools. TAILS is the first name you are going to hear when you talk about a security focused distro and it surely does deliver on its promises.
2. Qubes OS
Whereas TAILS operates on anonymity, Qubes OS provide security via isolation or compartmentalization. Qubes OS is based on Fedora. Unlike TAILS, there is no Live-mode as you have to install Qubes in order to be able to use it. Qubes works by creating isolated virtual machines through Xen for all differing desktop functions and limiting these functions to their virtual machines. Installing Qubes OS is very complicated and you may have to try out the various installation choices to get one that works for you. Nonetheless, Qubes provided a great distro with security in mind. In fact, Purism’s Notebook PCs which are billed as the most secure consumer PCs ship with Qubes OS.
3. JonDo Live-CD/DVD
JonDo is another good Debian-based distro that specializes in anonymizing your surfing. Much like TAILS, JonDo also uses the Tor network to ensure you remain anonymous on the web. All the software that do come with this distro are pre-configured with anonymity including, Tor browser, Torchat and Pidgin chat client. JonDO offers a much better user experience compared to TAILS but comes at a premium for commercial use.
Whonix takes a pretty different approach to security than those mentioned above. Whonix has no live system nor an install setup but it runs in a virtual machine atop your OS. It is also based on Debian and Tor to prevent your online surveillance. Whonix ensures that you remain completely isolated in that DNS leaks are practically impossible making sure that even malware with root privileges are unable to find a user’s real IP. Since Whonix runs in a virtual machine that is Virtualbox, you can get it for all major desktop platforms and Qubes OS even. Whonix is able to protect your online security while maintaining usability but if you do not have a powerful hardware, the user experience can take a serious hit.
5. Discreete Linux (Ubuntu Privacy Remix)
Discreete Linux is the new name for Ubuntu Privacy Remix which has been around since 2008. Discreete Linux provides an isolated, local working environment to which Trojans and spyware cannot access. Discreete allows sensitive or private data to be processed, encrypted and stored. Discreete is still in beta but nonetheless provides a very useful product for protecting your privacy and providing security. Discreete is available for download but you could also build the system yourself in order to have absolute control over the final result.
When it comes to your security or privacy, it is better to play it safe rather than regret it later. Every other day there is news of a new exploit, hack or malware on the loose. There also hackers out there looking to steal your private data or financial details. TAILS is the most popular and probably your safest choice but you can always protect yourself with one of these distros. Do you have any experience with any of these distros? Or did I leave out a worthy mention? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.