Install SecureDrop

Install Prerequisites

SecureDrop has some dependencies that need to be loaded onto the admin tails stick prior to the installation of the server.

To load these dependencies, from the base of the SecureDrop repo run the following commands:

./securedrop-admin setup

The package installation will complete in approximately 10 minutes, depending on network speed and computing power.

Configure the Installation

Make sure you have the following information and files before continuing:

  • The Application Server IP address
  • The Monitor Server IP address
  • The SecureDrop Submission Key (from the Transfer Device)
  • The SecureDrop Submission Key fingerprint
  • The email address that will receive alerts from OSSEC
  • The GPG public key and fingerprint for the email address that will receive the alerts
  • Connection information for the SMTP relay that handles OSSEC alerts. For more information, see the OSSEC Alerts Guide.
  • The first username of a journalist who will be using SecureDrop (you can add more later)
  • The username of the system administrator
  • (Optional) An image to replace the SecureDrop logo on the Source Interface and Journalist Interface
    • Recommended size: 500px x 450px
    • Recommended format: PNG

You will have to copy the following required files to install_files/ansible-base:

  • SecureDrop Submission Key public key file
  • Admin GPG public key file (for encrypting OSSEC alerts)
  • (Optional) Custom header image file

The SecureDrop Submission Key should be located on your Transfer Device from earlier. It will depend on the location where the USB stick is mounted, but for example, if you are already at the root of the SecureDrop repository, you can just run:

cp /media/[USB folder]/SecureDrop.asc install_files/ansible-base

Or you may use the copy and paste capabilities of the file manager. Repeat this step for the Admin GPG key and custom header image.

Run the configuration playbook and answer the prompts with values that match your environment:

./securedrop-admin sdconfig

The script will automatically validate the answers you provided, and display error messages if any problems were detected. The answers you provided will be written to the file install_files/ansible-base/group_vars/all/site-specific, which you can edit manually to provide further customization.

When you’re done, save the file and quit the editor.

Install SecureDrop Servers

Now you are ready to install! This process will configure the servers and install SecureDrop and all of its dependencies on the remote servers.

./securedrop-admin install

You will be prompted to enter the sudo password for the Application and Monitor Servers (which should be the same).

The install process will take some time, and it will return the terminal to you when it is complete. If an error occurs while running the install, please submit a detailed GitHub issue or send an email to


The SecureDrop install process configures a custom Linux kernel hardened with the grsecurity patch set. Only binary images are hosted in the apt repo. For source packages, see the Source Offer.

Once the installation is complete, the addresses for each Tor Hidden Service will be available in the following files under install_files/ansible-base:

  • app-source-ths: This is the .onion address of the Source Interface
  • app-journalist-aths: This is the HidServAuth configuration line for the Journalist Interface. During a later step, this will be automatically added to your Tor configuration file in order to exclusively connect to the hidden service.
  • app-ssh-aths: Same as above, for SSH access to the Application Server.
  • mon-ssh-aths: Same as above, for SSH access to the Monitor Server.

The dynamic inventory file will automatically read the Onion URLs for SSH from the app-ssh-aths and mon-ssh-aths files, and use them to connect to the servers during subsequent playbook runs.