Tails OS, which experts consider the world’s most secure operating system and that the NSA called a “threat,” has released a new version that includes a Bitcoin wallet option.
In the fight for privacy, bitcoin has been an invaluable tool. While those in the know will be the first to tell you that bitcoin isn't completely anonymous, the pseudonymous nature of bitcoin gives it far more privacy than credit card transactions, particularly if certain precautions are taken.
However, there is a larger battle in the war for privacy, and that is the battle for privacy of communication. A major advancement in this field is Tails OS, which was famously used by Glenn Greenwald and the other journalists that broke the Edward Snowden leaks. Yesterday, Tails OS announced that they have released version 1.3, and it includes an option for adding an Electrum Bitcoin wallet.
Tails OS is unlike any other operating system. While it is technically a Linux distro, it is designed from the ground up with privacy and security in mind. For starters, everything is sent through the Tor Network. More impressive, it isn't designed to be installed on a regular hard drive. Instead, it is designed to boot directly from a USB stick or DVD. Every time you boot up Tails OS, it is almost like starting completely over.
Users will find a few programs preinstalled, Tor, GnuPG (openPGP) and a few other privacy-minded tools. This is done to reduce the risk that comes with long term exposure to the internet. Even Tor isn't completely safe, so Tails OS heads that off by essentially creating a new identity every time the OS is rebooted.
But there are some options out there for people who want more, and this is where the Electrum Bitcoin wallet comes in. On re-writable media (i.e. not a DVD) Tails OS provides 4GBs of space for those who want to add a few more programs. This is called the Persistent Volume. Every addition presents another opportunity for a nefarious party to find a hole, so features have to be added slowly if Tails OS wants to keep security as tight as possible.
Programs that aren't officially supported can be added by tech savvy users who know what they are doing, but doing so could also open the user to security holes, or send communications around the firewall, exposing their identity to the world. While even tested software adds more variables and makes a security breach more likely, they are generally safe. Electrum is an ideal fit because it does not need to download the bitcoin blockchain, which would be impossible on Tails OS.
Tails OS was called a “major threat” to the NSA in the agency's own leaked documents. According to those documents, written in 2012, Tails OS, when used in conjunction with other privacy minded tools, can completely thwart the NSA's attempts at snooping.
In short, you can now hold your washed or tumbled bitcoins in a wallet stored on arguably the world's most secure internet-connected operating system. That will undoubtedly be a significant tool in the war for privacy.