Keeping the Workstation secure

Warning

SecureDrop Workstation is in a limited beta phase, and is not recommended for general use at this time. See our blog post for more information.

The SecureDrop Workstation provides the combined functionality of the Tails-based Journalist Workstation and Secure Viewing Station (SVS). As such, it contains both a copy of the Submission Private Key, and encrypted and decrypted messages and submissions. It’s critical to ensure that the same security practices that are used to protect the SVS are applied to the SecureDrop Workstation as well.

Physically secure the workstation

The SecureDrop Workstation computer is subject to similar security requirements as the SVS, with the additional requirement of a working Internet connection:

  • It should be stored in a secure and locked room, with access restricted to users and administrators.
  • The room may be monitored externally, but there should be no internal monitoring.
  • A wired Internet connection that does not restrict Tor must be available for the workstation. This connection should either be dedicated to SecureDrop Workstation, or should be on a fully segregated subnet from the rest of the corporate network.
  • Users should not bring other electronic devices into the room, with the exception of smartphones used for 2FA token generation. While in the room, smartphones should be set to airplane mode, and should not be used for any purpose other than 2FA.

Use strong passphrases

It is recommended to use strong Diceware-generated passphrases for all passwords in the system. The password manager included with current versions of Tails, KeepassXC, includes an option to generate Diceware passphrases, which may make the process easier for end users.

Passwords and other credentials in use by SecureDrop Workstation include:

  • the Qubes full disk encryption (FDE) password, required to unlock system storage on boot. All users will need this password.
  • the Qubes system user password, required to log in. All users will need this password
  • SecureDrop Client login credentials. These are the same credentials that are used by journalists and administrators to log in to the Journalist Interface, and are unique per user.

Apply updates when prompted

SecureDrop Workstation includes an updater application that runs automatically on startup, checks for Qubes and SecureDrop updates, and prompts the user to apply them if found. Given the sensitive nature of the system, it is critical that updates are applied when available. Administrators should ensure that users are aware of this requirement, and should periodically check to ensure that the system is up to date.