Set up the Admin Workstation¶
Earlier, you should have created the Admin Tails USB along with a persistence volume for it. Now, we are going to add a couple more features to the Admin Tails USB to facilitate SecureDrop’s setup.
If you have not switched to and booted the Admin Tails USB on your regular workstation, do so now.
Start Tails with Persistence Enabled¶
After you boot the Admin Tails USB on your normal workstation, you should see a Welcome to Tails screen with Encrypted Persistent Storage. Enter your password and click Unlock. Do NOT click Start Tails yet. Under Additional Settings click the plus sign.
Click Administration password, enter a password for use with this specific Tails session and click Add. And finally click Start Tails.
The Administration password is a one-time password. It will reset every time you shut down Tails.
After Tails finishes booting, make sure you’re connected to the Internet and that the Tor status onion icon is not crossed out , consulting the icons in the upper right corner of the screen.
Download the SecureDrop repository¶
The rest of the SecureDrop-specific configuration is assisted by files stored in the SecureDrop Git repository. We’re going to be using this again once SecureDrop is installed, but you should download it now. To get started, open a terminal . You will use this Terminal throughout the rest of the install process.
Start by running the following commands to download the git repository.
cd ~/Persistent git clone https://github.com/freedomofpress/securedrop.git
Since the repository is fairly large and Tor can be slow, this may take a few minutes.
Do not download SecureDrop Git repository as a Zip file, or any other means. Only download by using the given git command.
Verify the Release Tag¶
Do not skip this step as this steps validates the files in your Git repository.
First, download and verify the SecureDrop Release Signing Key.
gpg --recv-key "2224 5C81 E3BA EB41 38B3 6061 310F 5612 00F4 AD77"
It is important you type this out correctly. If you are not copy-pasting this command, we recommend you double-check you have entered it correctly before pressing enter.
--recv-key command fails, first double-check that
Tails is connected to Tor.
Once you’ve confirmed that you’re successfully connected to Tor, try
--recv-key command a few times. The default GPG
configuration on Tails uses a keyserver pool, which may occasionally return
a malfunctioning keyserver, causing the
--recv-key command to fail.
If the command is consistently failing after a few tries, it could
indicate that the default GPG key servers are down or unreachable. As a
workaround, another keyserver can be specified by adding the
option to the
gpg --recv-key command. In our experience, the SKS HKPS
keyserver pool is usually a reliable alternative, so try:
gpg --keyserver hkps://hkps.pool.sks-keyservers.net --recv-key "2224 5C81 E3BA EB41 38B3 6061 310F 5612 00F4 AD77"
Again, this is a keyserver pool, so you may need to retry the command a couple of times before it succeeds.
When passing the full public key fingerprint to the
--recv-key command, GPG
will implicitly verify that the fingerprint of the key received matches the
If GPG warns you that the fingerprint of the key received does not match the one requested do not proceed with the installation. If this happens, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Verify that the current release tag was signed with the release signing key:
cd ~/Persistent/securedrop/ git checkout 0.7.0 git tag -v 0.7.0
You should see
Good signature from "SecureDrop Release Signing Key" in the
output of that last command along with the fingerprint above.
If you do not, signature verification has failed and you should not proceed with the installation. If this happens, please contact us at email@example.com.
Create the Admin Passphrase Database¶
We provide a KeePassX password database template to make it easier for admins and journalists to generate strong, unique passphrases and store them securely. Once you have set up Tails with persistence and have cloned the repo, you can set up your personal password database using this template.
You can find the template in
in the SecureDrop repository that you just cloned.
To use the template:
- Open the KeePassX program which is already installed on Tails
- Select Database, Open database, and navigate to the location of securedrop-keepassx.kdbx, select it, and click Open
- Check the password box and hit OK
- Click Database and Save Database As
- Save the database in the Persistent folder
If you would like to add a master password, navigate to Database and Change master key. Note that since each KeePassX database is stored on the encrypted persistent volume, this additional passphrase is not necessary.
You will not be able to access your passwords if you forget the master password or the location of the key file used to protect the database.
In case you wish to manually create a database, the suggested password fields in the admin template are:
- Admin account username
- App Server SSH Onion URL
- Email account for sending OSSEC alerts
- Monitor Server SSH Onion URL
- Network Firewall Admin Credentials
- OSSEC GPG Key
- SecureDrop Login Credentials
- Auth Value: Journalist Interface
- Onion URL: Journalist Interface
- Personal GPG Key
- SecureDrop Login Credentials
Secure Viewing Station:
- SecureDrop GPG Key
- This section contains clones of the above entries in case a user accidentally overwrites an entry.