Andreas Heinlein has announced the release of Ubuntu Privacy Remix 10.04r1, an Ubuntu-based live DVD with a goal of providing a completely isolated working environment where private data can be dealt with safely and to protect data against unsolicited access: "After a long period of work and testing, the UPR team has released the final version of Ubuntu Privacy Remix 10.04. We have extended and improved the following features: TrueCrypt has been updated to version 6.3a; we have written our own front-end to GnuPG, which replaces Seahorse, with it you can use GPG features like key groups or restoring original file names; the scripts for extended TrueCrypt volumes have been improved and the backup feature during close can backup other open containers as well; new applications: VYM Mindmapper, GIMP, Xterm (for enabling the 'repair file system' feature of TrueCrypt); simple creation and use of LUKS-encrypted volumes." Read the full release announcement for further information. Download: upr-10.04r1.iso (888MB).
• 2010-10-14: Distribution Release: Ubuntu Privacy Remix 10.04r1
• 2010-09-10: Distribution Release: Ubuntu Privacy Remix 9.04r4
The goal of Ubuntu Privacy Remix is to provide an isolated working environment where sensitive data can be dealt with safely. The system installed on the computer running UPR remains untouched, UPR is not intended for permanent installation on hard disk. Instead of that Ubuntu Privacy Remix runs from a modified Live-CD based on Ubuntu Linux. All user data reside exclusively on encrypted removable media.
Ubuntu Privacy Remix is a tool to protect your data against unsolicited access. The risk of theft of such private data arises not only from "conventional" criminals, trojans. rootkits, keyloggers etc. In many countries, measures are taken by the state aiming at spying and monitoring its citizens.
But I am already encrypting my data...
Good encryption is of course one of the most important measures to protect your data. Ubuntu Privacy Remix contains the well-known cryptographis software TrueCrypt and GnuPG. But the security of encryption relies not only on the security of the used software.
Trojans, Rootkits, Keyloggers can lower or even circumvent the security of cryptographic software.
For example software like Microsoft Office or Google Desktop, which can create an unencrypted copy of the data on hard disk when opening files from an encrypted TrueCrypt-Volume.
Or a trojan horse waits for you to open a TrueCrypt-Container, mailing your sensitive files to someone else at the next opportuinity.
Or malicious software logs your keystrokes, including the passphrase for your secret GPG-Key, and mails it along with the key to some unknown attacker. He could then read all your past and future Mails he gets his hands on.
Security is a system
These few examples show that security means the security of the whole working environment, and that security can never be provided by one program alone. Editing, de- and encryption of sensitive data should therefore be done with a system that
- never has or had contact to untrustworthy networks like the internet
- cannot leave data unencrypted on the hard drive, not even unnoticed or by accident
- offers no opportunity to spyware to permanently install onto the system
Ubuntu Privacy Remix creates such a working environment on any PC with the following measures:
- the system resides on a non-writable CD, i.e. it is in the original state after every reboot and cannot be modified afterwards. Spyware and other mailicious software cannot be installed permanently. All alterable user data reside on encrypted removable media like USB flash drives.
- The system kernel is modified so that it ignores any network hardware. UPR therefore is an isolated system which can not be attacked via LAN/WLAN/Bleutooth/Infrared etc.
- UPR mounts removable media and TrueCrypt volumes with the 'noexec' option. This prevents executing malicious programs that were imported accidentally into the UPR-System via removable media. Therewith it is secured, that the running UPR-System can not be infected this way.
- The system is based on free software which can be verified in source code.
- The system completely ignores any local hard disks. Neither can they be used by malicious software to save sensitive data outside the encrypted removable media - unencrypted and unnoticed for later attacks - , nor could this happen accidentally by the users inattention. Malicious software can also not be loaded from already compromised hard disks into UPR.
- To ease working with a non-modifiable system, UPR introduces "extended TrueCrypt-Volumes", which can store program configuration like GnuPG settings, OpenOffice dictionaries etc. permanently and securely within an encrypted volume. These settings are automatically made available after opening such an "extended TrueCrypt-Volume". This method is only an optional alternative to using standard TrueCrypt volumes. (more information)
Ubuntu Privacy Remix therefore has two levels of security:
1By being non-modifiable, it is impossible to permanently install malicious software, neither by network nor by local hard disks.
2Even if it were possible for malicious software to load into memory, there is no possibility to save or send captured data anywhere outside.