Tin Hat Linux
|Company / developer||Anthony G. Basile, et al.|
|Source model||Open source|
|Latest stable release||20130228 / February 28, 2013|
|Supported platforms||IA-32, x86-64|
|Default user interface||GNOME|
Tin Hat is a Linux distribution derived from Hardened Gentoo Linux. It aims to provide a very secure, stable, and fast desktop environment that lives purely in RAM. Tin Hat boots from CD, or optionally from USB flash drive, but it does not mount any file system directly from the boot device. Instead, Tin Hat employs a large SquashFS image from the boot device which expands into tmpfs upon booting. This makes for long boot times, but fast speeds during use.
The central design consideration in Tin Hat is to construct an operating system that can hide data from an attacker even if he has physical access to the computer. Physical access to a computer with unencrypted filesystems does not secure the data and an attacker could easily retrieve the data. Encrypting the filesystem provides protection from such an attack, but many implementations of encryption do not hide the fact that data is encrypted on the filesystem. For example, the LUKS encryption system includes metadata which detail the block cipher and block cipher mode used in encryption. This information does not help the attacker decrypt the filesystem, but it does reveal that it contains encrypted data and not random data. However, Tin Hat stores its filesystem in the RAM, leaving no data in the computer's hard drive. If the user stores any data via a more permanent means than RAM, the encrypted data is indiscernable from random data.
Tin Hat's preferred method of encryption is via loop-aes v3.
Beyond these considerations, Tin Hat has to also protect against more common exploits based on networking or security holes in software. The hardening model chosen is PaX/Grsecurity which is already provided by the Hardened Gentoo project. Hardening of the kernel and the toolchain make most code born exploits less likely. A non-modular compiled kernel further frustrates the insertion of malicious kernel modules.
Difference from Gentoo
Articles and media coverage
- Gentoo Monthly Newsletter: August 31 2008
- Hackaday.com: Nov 20th 2008
- Golem.de (German): March 12th 2009
- Desktoplinux.com: March 12th 2009
- OpenNet.ru (Russian): March 12th 2009
- Root.cz (Czech): March 15th 2009
- LWN.net: March 18th 2009
- Pofacs #067 (German Podcast): January 21st 2010
- Xakep.ru (Russian): February 27th 2010