Set up the Admin Workstation

Earlier, you should have created the Admin Workstation Tails USB along with a persistence volume for it. Now, we are going to add a couple more features to the Admin Workstation to facilitate SecureDrop’s setup.

If you have not switched to and booted the Admin Workstation Tails USB on your regular workstation, do so now.

Start Tails with Persistence Enabled

After you boot the Admin Workstation Tails USB on your normal workstation, you should see a Welcome to Tails screen with Encrypted Persistent Storage. Enter your password and click Unlock. Do NOT click Start Tails yet. Under Additional Settings click the plus sign.

Click Administration password, enter a password for use with this specific Tails session and click Add. And finally click Start Tails.


The Administration password is a one-time password. It will reset every time you shut down Tails.

After Tails finishes booting, make sure you’re connected to the Internet Network and that the Tor status onion icon is not crossed out TorStatus, consulting the icons in the upper right corner of the screen.

Download the SecureDrop repository

The rest of the SecureDrop-specific configuration is assisted by files stored in the SecureDrop Git repository. We’re going to be using this again once SecureDrop is installed, but you should download it now. To get started, open a terminal Terminal. You will use this Terminal throughout the rest of the install process.

Start by running the following commands to download the git repository.

cd ~/Persistent
git clone


Since the repository is fairly large and Tor can be slow, this may take a few minutes.


Do not download SecureDrop Git repository as a Zip file, or any other means. Only download by using the given git command.

Verify the Release Tag


Do not skip this step as this steps validates the files in your Git repository.

First, download and verify the SecureDrop Release Signing Key.

gpg --recv-key "2224 5C81 E3BA EB41 38B3 6061 310F 5612 00F4 AD77"


It is important you type this out correctly. If you are not copy-pasting this command, we recommend you double-check you have entered it correctly before pressing enter.


If the --recv-key command fails, first double-check that Tails is connected to Tor.

Once you’ve confirmed that you’re successfully connected to Tor, try re-running the --recv-key command a few times. The default GPG configuration on Tails uses a keyserver pool, which may occasionally return a malfunctioning keyserver, causing the --recv-key command to fail.

If the command is consistently failing after a few tries, it could indicate that the default GPG key servers are down or unreachable. As a workaround, another keyserver can be specified by adding the --keyserver option to the gpg --recv-key command. In our experience, the SKS HKPS keyserver pool is usually a reliable alternative, so try:

gpg --keyserver hkps:// --recv-key "2224 5C81 E3BA EB41 38B3 6061 310F 5612 00F4 AD77"

Again, this is a keyserver pool, so you may need to retry the command a couple of times before it succeeds.

When passing the full public key fingerprint to the --recv-key command, GPG will implicitly verify that the fingerprint of the key received matches the argument passed.


If GPG warns you that the fingerprint of the key received does not match the one requested do not proceed with the installation. If this happens, please email us at

Verify that the current release tag was signed with the release signing key:

cd ~/Persistent/securedrop/
git checkout 0.11.1
git tag -v 0.11.1

You should see Good signature from "SecureDrop Release Signing Key" in the output of that last command along with the fingerprint above.


If you do not, signature verification has failed and you should not proceed with the installation. If this happens, please contact us at

Create the Admin Passphrase Database

We provide a KeePassX password database template to make it easier for admins and journalists to generate strong, unique passphrases and store them securely. Once you have set up Tails with persistence and have cloned the repo, you can set up your personal password database using this template.

You can find the template in tails_files/securedrop-keepassx.kdbx in the SecureDrop repository that you just cloned.

To use the template:

  • Open the KeePassX program KeePassX which is already installed on Tails
  • Select Database, Open database, and navigate to the location of securedrop-keepassx.kdbx, select it, and click Open
  • Check the password box and hit OK
  • Click Database and Save Database As
  • Save the database in the Persistent folder


If you would like to add a master password, navigate to Database and Change master key. Note that since each KeePassX database is stored on the encrypted persistent volume, this additional passphrase is not necessary.


You will not be able to access your passwords if you forget the master password or the location of the key file used to protect the database.

In case you wish to manually create a database, the suggested password fields in the admin template are:


  • Admin account username
  • App Server SSH Onion URL
  • Email account for sending OSSEC alerts
  • Monitor Server SSH Onion URL
  • Network Firewall Admin Credentials
  • SecureDrop Login Credentials


  • Auth Value: Journalist Interface
  • Onion URL: Journalist Interface
  • Personal GPG Key
  • SecureDrop Login Credentials

Secure Viewing Station:

  • SecureDrop GPG Key


  • This section contains clones of the above entries in case a user accidentally overwrites an entry.