Whonix is an open-source computer operating system (OS) tailored for user safety and security, with the official Whonix site describing it as a privacy and anonymity OS.
The OS is constructed using the same building blocks that were used to develop Tor – it is designed to accord total privacy and anonymity to users.
Whonix’s capability has been noted to prevent the occurrence of DNS leaks and malicious software that exploit the vulnerabilities involving users’ real IPs. For this, the OS provides an ideal solution to users seeking to browse the dark web as opposed to only relying on Tor.
Point to note, cyber safety experts advise against the over reliance on Tor as the only privacy and anonymity gateway. It is not advisable for darknet suffers to use the Tor browser while using a traditional operating system like Microsoft Windows.
Much of these concerns are tied to public knowledge concerning the relationship between Microsoft and US intelligence services. It turns out that the software giant signed a deal with the National Security Agency (NSA), which would allow the US spy agency to access information on Microsoft’s systems for purposes attributed to national security matters.
How Whonix Works
Quite obviously, it is important that prospective users understand the inner workings of the privacy and anonymity OS before making a decision to use Whonix.
Essentially, the OS is composed of two parts: Whonix-Gateway and Whonix-Workstation. The Whonix-Gateway operates on Tor and functions as a gateway, just as the name suggests. Whonix-Workstation provides the platform needed for user activity.
For users looking to use Whonix, they are required to download the VirtualBox, which will establish the virtual machines in your computer to support Whonix. After a successful VirtualBox download, user are required to download the Whonix Gateway and Workstation subsystems.
Usually, a wide range of download options are at the users’ disposal as one needs to select an option that suits their specific need. Experts advise that users ensure that they verify the images using a Signing Key. Otherwise, background information on PGP encryption would be required.
A Plethora of Advantages and Few Cons
Whonix boasts of a number of merits as an anonymity tool of choice. The fact that Whonix accommodates the integration of different sequences of Tor and Virtual Private Networks (VPN) is a big plus over its peers.
The above aspect allows Whonix users to juggle between various system configurations – specifically, a user can set their system such that all network traffic passes through a VPN before going through the Tor network, and the VPN once again.
Cybersecurity experts highlight Whonix’s customizable features that give it an edge over the portable Tails OS. With the right knowledge, a user can exploit the existing programs and settings in creating a custom anonymity and cybersecurity system to operate across different platforms and files.
In the context of online browsing, Whonix offers an ideal option as far as the anonymous access to the internet is concerned, although this may prove difficult as an ongoing system strategy.
Nonetheless, there exists a number of disadvantages to be noted. First, its lack of portability is a problem. The fact that this OS is created around virtualization means that users may find it problematic to work with external media.
For instance, if a user intends to connect a USB flash drive to their system, the device will first traverse the main OS such as Microsoft’s Windows, then pass the VirtualBox before finally ending up in the Whonix system.
Quite obviously, such a route is bound to create a fundamental cyber safety risk in the case of a hacking attempt targeting the OS with the installed VirtualBox program.