Multiple Whonix-Workstation ™s
|About this Whonix-Workstation ™ Page|
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Safety Precautions
- 3 How-to: Use more than One Whonix-Workstation ™ - EASY
- 4 Multiple Whonix-Gateway ™s
- 5 See Also
- 6 Footnotes
Whonix ™ is a secure operating system comprised of two virtual machines which are isolated both from each other and the host. This configuration averts many threats posed by malware, misbehaving applications and user error. While Whonix ™ protects against many real world threats,  it is still possible for skilled adversaries to compromise Whonix-Workstation ™ (Qubes-Whonix ™:
If a single Whonix-Workstation ™ is used for all anonymous activities and is exploited, the attacker gains access to available data and can monitor all online activity. To minimize the impact of a compromise, it is recommended to utilize multiple Whonix-Workstation ™s to compartmentalize different identities and/or additional software. Depending on individual preferences and requirements, a second, third ... nth Whonix-Workstation ™ VM can be created.
Multiple Whonix-Workstation ™ Rationale
Different torifed clients can be used in a completely isolated manner with Multiple Whonix-Workstation ™s. By compartmentalizing each different identity or client, an attacker can only read the data in the compromised VM. For example, if Tor Browser in VM-1 was compromised it could not read a user's IRC identity in VM-2. 
One disadvantage of this configuration is that if the host Internet connection goes offline or Tor on Whonix-Gateway ™ (
sys-whonix) suddenly fails, then all Whonix-Workstation ™s will go offline simultaneously. If multiple Tor clients were running and abruptly stop in unison, a network observer could link these activities to the same person. For instance, a strong correlation is formed if two Tor users in one IRC channel go offline at exactly the same time.
Qubes-Whonix ™ vs Non-Qubes-Whonix ™
Qubes-Whonix ™ is the recommended choice for multiple Whonix-Workstation ™s because it is specifically designed for compartmentalization (a.k.a. sandboxing) of multiple running VMs. This provides significant speed and security advantages relative to the traditional Type 2 hypervisor model, where two (or more) Whonix ™ VMs are run inside programs like VirtualBox on top of the host OS. For further information, see: Type 1 vs Type 2 Hypervisors and Why use Qubes over other Virtualizers?
Qubes-Whonix ™ also has a TemplateBased filesystem which saves time and improves usability compared to Non-Qubes-Whonix ™:
- Centralized Updates: AppVMs are based on the corresponding TemplateVM's root filesystem. After updating the TemplateVM, those same updates will be reflected in the root filesystem of every TemplateBasedVM. Non-Qubes-Whonix ™ users must spend more time in updating each VM individually.
- Minimal Disk Usage: TemplateBasedVMs require far less disk space than traditional VMs since the AppVM's root filesystem is based on the corresponding template. The AppVM only requires enough disk space to hold user files in the
- VM Management: Cloning VMs is a simple two-step process which can be done in Qube Manager. Non-Qubes-Whonix ™ requires a multi-step process to clone and configure each VM.
It is safest to only use one Whonix-Workstation ™ at a time and for a single activity. New risks are introduced by running multiple Whonix-Workstation ™s at the same time. For instance, if a single Whonix-Workstation ™ was compromised, it could potentially perform various side channel attacks to learn about running processes in other VMs, and not all of these can be defeated. Depending on user activities, a skilled adversary might be able to correlate multiple Whonix-Workstation ™s to the same pseudonym.
Table: Cross-VM Attack Vectors
|Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) Attack||
If a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) Attack is launched from an infected Whonix ™ VM, then:
Following infection, an adversary could try to exploit the Whonix-Gateway ™ or other Whonix-Workstation ™s:
|Identity Correlation through Circuit Sharing||
When different applications use the same Tor circuit and exit relay, these activities can be linked to the same pseudonym (see Stream Isolation for further details):
|System Stressing||An adversary could stress any system, network or software components like CPU, HDD, RAM, network connection and other Whonix-Workstation ™s. Potentially the host could be negatively affected as well.|
How-to: Use more than One Whonix-Workstation ™ - EASY
Using multiple Whonix-Workstation ™s is simple in Qubes-Whonix ™:
- Create an additional AppVM based on the Whonix-Workstation ™ template (
whonix-ws-15) and give it a distinctive name.
- Confirm the new AppVM is using
sys-whonixas its NetVM.
If creating a new AppVM is unfamiliar, follow this link for step-by-step instructions: Create Whonix ™ Workstation AppVMs.
If you are interested in this configuration, please press on Expand on the right.
How-to: Use more than One Whonix-Workstation ™ - More Security
- Qubes-Whonix ™: This step can be skipped. 
- Non-Qubes-Whonix ™: See: Connections between Whonix-Gateway ™ and Whonix-Workstation ™.
Multiple Whonix-Gateway ™s
Moved to Multiple Whonix-Gateway ™s.
- See: Protection Against Real World Attacks.
- Without using an additional exploit to successfully break out of the infected VM, which is a difficult task.
- To minimize the threat of exploits it is recommended to apply relevant instructions found in the System Hardening Checklist.
- For details, see Firewall.
- Since IsolateClientAddr is the Tor default.
- Like a man-in-the-middle attack or malicious gateway.
- By default, AppVMs which are behind the same ProxyVM (or NetVM) are prevented from connecting to each other in Qubes.
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