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Guest Terry Wright

Newbie Question

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Guest Terry Wright

Hi,

 

I'm a total newbie to Linux and have a question.

 

I've read that you don't get viruses, spyware etc when using Linux (or very rarely). Can someone explain why this is, in non-geek language.

 

Thanking you in advance. :)

 

Tezzaa

 

Title edited by phunni for clarity

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Because 1. linux is regularly run via a limited permissions account, so the core of the system isn't exposed, and 2. there are very few viruses which can affect Linux- the vast majority of them are targetting windoze, because only some 5% of the world is running Linux and most Linux users are experienced/careful enough to avoid silly infections.

Compare that with the average Joe's windowsXP, where (BY DEFAULT!) Joe (who usually does not know sh*t about security) is running an Administrator account with no password!

Nuff said.

Edited by scarecrow

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Welcome aboard. :)

 

I guess this sums it up nicely:

Windows:

1. By default, most people use an account with full administrative rights. Thus, any virus and/or trojan can be executed at once (no need to ask for a password ;) ).

2. By default, Windows (prior to Vista) does not ship with a working firewall. Vista finally has a firewall but it's usefullness is much in doubt (for a good reason).

3. Most people do not install a firewall and /or antivirus and anti-spy kits. This makes the system vulnerable.

4. Most people don't update their system. Security holes are thus not fixed and these exploits can be used by viruses in order to infect more computers somewhere else in the world.

5. Internet-Explorer is an integral part of the monolithic system-core. Thus a virus/trojan affecting IE will affect the whole system.

 

Linux:

1. By default, most Linux-distributions (very, very few exceptions) differentiate between the user and the administrative user. Both are protected by passwords. Thus a virus that affects the user will usually not affect the administrator.

2. Most Linux-distros do install a firewall by default. Some distributions additionally use security enhancement features like AppArmor or SELinux that reduce the risk of system-breakdown.

3. Linux users are usually more careful about what they do with their systems (which is due to the learning experience when using Linux imho).

4. Linux users usually apply updates to their systems, thus security holes will be fixed fast.

5. The users applications are not part of the base-system, thus a virus that will affect e.g. firefox will not affect the system-core.

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2. By default, Windows (prior to Vista) does not ship with a working firewall. Vista finally has a firewall but it's usefullness is much in doubt (for a good reason).
Unless you count the Windows XP SP2 cd's (no, XP didn't ship with it at release but you can buy full versions now with a firewall thanks to SP2 - not that it's any good, mind you).

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Plus, due to the nature of GNU/Linux being mostly open source, it's very difficult to hide anything malicious amongst the code. Even if something is somehow hidden, it is soon discovered (by code monkeys) and dealt with.

Edited by {BBI}Nexus{BBI}

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Guest Terry Wright
Plus, due to the nature of GNU/Linux being mostly open source, it's very difficult to hide anything malicious amongst the code. Even if something is somehow hidden, it is soon discovered (by code monkeys) and dealt with.

 

Thanks for all your replies they are most helpful. :D

 

Question to Nexus; what do you mean by "code monkeys"? :unsure:

 

Tezzaa

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IMHO the major thing hasn't been mentioned yet,... it is a combination of two factors:

 

- windows by default strips the file extension

- email attachments can be executable, which is determined by the extension

 

Which makes a tiny bit of social engineering enough, just call your (self replicating and forwarding to any email address it finds on the system it's run on) trojan anna.kournikova.naked.jpg.exe and send it to a couple of people.

It will show up as anna.kournikova.naked.jpg in most peoples email inboxes, and lots of them would love to have a quick peek...

Clicking it will run it.

Sure, filtering email and scanning for such stuff is possible, but a fixing after the fact, which is that windows has this gaping hole in the name of convenience and backwards compatibility.

I cannot for the life of me imagine a single situation where you need an executable sent as attachment to be executed at once upon clicked..

 

On Linux, email attachments are by default not executable, it requires fiddling to make them executable. So the uninitiated cannot mess up their system through social engineering (those who'd fall for: you have to do this command: chmod +x ... are not able to do it, and those who can do it wouldn't fall for it).

 

 

 

Briefly, one could say that MSWindows sacrifices security for convenience.

 

 

Hmm, where have I heard this kind of thing before....

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I'm a code monkey! I have the t-shirt to prove it ;)

 

It can still be a good idea to run a virus scanner to help avoid passing them on...

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