Safer computing: What to do when you can’t trust your device?

If at all possible, you should switch to a completely separate device; one that you have no reason to suspect is compromised. Think of a device owned by a friend or family member. Cybercafes may be an option, but in many countries cybercafes are under heavy surveillance by local governments and law enforcement.

If you don’t have access to a secure device, you may be able to download and install TAILS. TAILS is a ‘live CD’ (or USB) that runs a custom operating system that is built to be highly secure, but does not alter the computer you run it on. It has many features to help protect you from a compromised computer and to help you protect your communications.

Download, verify, and install TAILS carefully, following the instructions provided on the site. You will need a blank DVD, or a USB or SD card that is 2 gigabytes or larger. Some of the steps, particularly verifying the download, can be cumbersome, but they are crucial in assuring that the download you have received is the one you intended. You want to be sure that you are moving to a more secure setup as opposed to a less secure one.