Configure the Admin Workstation Post-Install and Create Backups
Auto-connect to the Authenticated Onion Services
The SecureDrop installation process adds multiple layers of authentication to protect access to the most sensitive assets in the SecureDrop system:
The Journalist Interface, because it provides access to submissions (although they are encrypted to an offline key), and some metadata about sources and submissions.
SSH on the Application Server
SSH on the Monitor Server
The installation process blocks direct access to each of these assets, and sets
up authenticated onion services to provide authenticated access
instead. Authenticated onion services share the benefits of regular onion services,
but are only accessible to users who possess a shared secret
auth-cookie in the Tor documentation) that is generated during the onion
service setup process.
In order to access an authenticated onion service, you require its authentication secret. SecureDrop includes a set of scripts to configure Tails access to the authenticated onion services. In order to persist these changes across reboots, persistence must be enabled in Tails.
To install the auto-connect configuration, start by navigating to the directory
with these scripts (
~/Persistent/securedrop/), and run the install script:
Type the Administration Password that you selected when starting Tails and hit
Enter. This script installs a persistent script that runs every time you
connect to a network in Tails, and automatically configures access to
the Journalist Interface and to the servers via SSH. The HidServAuth info is
collected from files in
~/Persistent/securedrop/install_files/ansible-base and stored in
In addition, the script creates desktop and menu shortcuts for the Source and Journalist Interfaces, directs Tails to install Ansible at the beginning of every session, and sets up SSH host aliases for the servers.
The script is also responsible for enabling the SecureDrop Menu.
The only thing you need to remember to do is enable persistence when you boot the Admin Workstation. If you are using the Admin Workstation and are unable to connect to any of the authenticated onion services, restart Tails and make sure to enable persistence.
Back Up the Workstations
USB drives can wear out, get lost, or otherwise become corrupted, making it very important to be sure to keep current backups. Follow the Backup the Workstations document to create a backup of your Secure Viewing Station, Admin Workstation, and Journalist Workstations after you’ve completed the installation and post-installation steps.