SecureDrop has dependencies that need to be loaded onto the Admin Workstation
before installing the servers. To install these dependencies, from the base of
the SecureDrop repository (
~/Persistent/securedrop/) run the following
The package installation will take approximately 10 minutes, depending on network speed and computing power.
On Tails 3.9 or later, the apt persistence feature will prompt to install the package automatically from persistent storage on each boot. These apt packages don’t need to persist, click on Install Only Once:
Occasionally this command times out due to network latency issues. You
should be able to re-run the command and complete the setup. If you
run into a problem, try removing the
~/Persistent/securedrop/admin/.venv/ directory and the
~/Persistent/securedrop/.venv symbolic link and running the
The setup command should only be run as the
not as root. Contact the SecureDrop team if the package
installation encounters repeated errors.
Localization of the Source Interface and Journalist Interface¶
The Source Interface and Journalist Interface are translated in the following languages:
- Arabic (
- German (
- Greek (
- Spanish (
- French (
- Hindi (
- Icelandic (
- Italian (
- Norwegian (
- Dutch (
- Portuguese, Brasil (
- Romanian (
- Russian (
- Swedish (
- Turkish (
- Chinese, Traditional (
During the installation you will be given the opportunity to choose from a list of supported languages to display using the codes shown in parentheses.
With a Source Interface displayed in French (for example), sources submitting documents are likely to expect a journalist fluent in French to be available to read the documents and follow up in that language.
Configure the Installation¶
Make sure you have the following information and files ready before continuing:
- the Application Server local IP address
- the Monitor Server local IP address
- the Submission Public Key (from the Transfer Device)
- the Submission Key fingerprint
- the email address that will receive alerts from OSSEC
- the GPG public key and fingerprint for the email address that will receive the alerts
- connection information for the SMTP relay that handles OSSEC alerts (see the OSSEC Alerts Guide)
- the username of a journalist who will be using SecureDrop (you can add more later)
- the username of the system admin
Optionally, you can configure daily email notifications of submission activity for journalists. These help journalists avoid spending time checking the Journalist Interface when there are no submissions. For this you will need:
- the journalist alerts GPG key
- the journalist alerts GPG key fingerprint
- the email address that will receive the journalist alerts
It is not possible to specify multiple email addresses for email notifications. If there are multiple intended recipients, use an alias or mailing list. However, all subscribers must share the GPG private key, as it is not possible to specify multiple keys.
The journalist notification is sent after the daily reboot of the Application Server.
Before proceeding, you will need to copy the following files to
- the Submission Public Key file
- the admin’s GPG public key file (for encrypting OSSEC alerts)
The Submission Public Key should be located on your Transfer Device from earlier. Its exact path will depend on the location where the USB stick is mounted. From the root of the SecureDrop repository, run:
cp /media/[USB folder]/SecureDrop.asc install_files/ansible-base
/media/[USB folder]/ corresponds to the Transfer Device. (You can
also use the copy and paste capabilities of the file manager.)
Repeat this step for the Admin GPG key.
Next, run the configuration playbook and answer the prompts with values that match your environment:
The script will automatically validate the answers you provided and display
error messages if any problems are detected. The answers will be
written to the file
When you’re done, save the file and quit the editor.
Install SecureDrop Servers¶
Now you are ready to install! This process will configure the servers and install SecureDrop and all of its dependencies on the remote servers.
You will be prompted to enter the sudo passphrase for the Application Server and Monitor Server (which should be the same).
The installation process will take some time. It will return you to the terminal prompt when complete.
If any errors occur while running the install, carefully inspect the error output. Considering saving any error messages for reference and troubleshooting.
If you see an error running
./securedrop-admin install, and
believe it may be an intermittent issue (for example, due to losing
network connectivity to the servers), it is safe to run the
./securedrop-admin install command again. If you see the same
issue consistently, then you will need to troubleshoot it.
If you see the error message “timeout (62s) waiting for privilege
escalation prompt”, try deleting the Ansible control path directory on
your Admin Workstation (
rm -rf ~/.ansible/cp) to reset the
connection to the servers, then re-run the
./securedrop-admin install command from within
If needed, make edits to the file located at
described above. If you continue to have
issues, please submit a detailed issue notice on GitHub or send
an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SecureDrop install process configures a custom Linux kernel hardened with the grsecurity patch set. Only binary images are hosted in the apt repo. For source packages, see the Source Offer.
Once the installation is complete, addresses and credentials for each Tor Hidden
Service will be available in the following files under
.onionaddress of the Source Interface.
HidServAuthconfiguration line for the Journalist Interface. During a later step, this will be automatically added to your Tor configuration file in order to exclusively limit connections to the hidden service.
HidServAuthfor SSH access to the Application Server.
HidServAuthfor SSH access to the Monitor Server.
mon-ssh-aths files contain passwords for their corresponding
authenticated hidden services. They should not be shared with
third parties or copied from the Admin Workstation for any
reason other than well-defined administrative tasks such as
onboarding new users or performing backups.
The dynamic inventory file will automatically read the Onion URLs
mon-ssh-aths files and use them to connect
to the servers over SSH during subsequent playbook runs.