Linked by Igor Ljubuncic on Mon 21st Jun 2010 09:35 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption I've bored the readers of my personal website to death with two rather prosaic articles debating the Linux security model, in direct relation to Windows and associated claims of wondrous infections and lacks thereof. However, I haven't yet discussed even a single program that you can use on your Linux machine to gauge your security. For my inaugural article for OSNews, I'll leave the conceptual stuff behind, and focus on specific vectors of security, within the world of reason and moderation that I've created and show you how you can bolster a healthy strategy with some tactical polish, namely software.
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Don't need anti-virus?
by Timmmm on Mon 21st Jun 2010 13:46 UTC
Timmmm
Member since:
2006-07-25

While I agree that anti-virus is pretty pointless on Linux, and even detrimental on Windows I think your reasons are nearly all flawed.

1. User account stops viruses getting root

This is largely moot. Viruses aren't really interested in gaining root access. They can do nearly anything as the user anyway - key-logging, sending spam, DDoS, and so on. Besides once you have access to a user's account it is trivial to gain root - just change their path to point to a fake 'sudo' program which logs their password.

2. System updates provide security fixes for all software.

Ok this is a fair point.

3. Software is obtained from trusted repository

This is true up to a point. I'd bet most linux users install stuff from outside the repositories, and besides we've already seen examples of mirrors, and even source code being maliciously modified.

4. By default files aren't executable

This is just silly. Most viruses work either by buffer overflow type exploits, or by tricking the user into running a program. File permissions aren't going to help in either case. By the way, you can easily execute non-'executable' binaries like this:

/lib/ld-linux-x86-64.so.2 ./a_file

5. Diversity

This is true. Although I'd wager Ubuntu is becoming popular enough to count as a single target.

6. People will see vulnerabilities in open-source code.

Well evidently not, otherwise there wouldn't be any need for security updates. See also the Underhanded C Contest: http://underhanded.xcott.com/

7. Linux users are more skillfull.

True, I suppose.

The real reason you don't need anti-virus on linux is because there are a very very small number of linux viruses. And that is almost certainly due to the fact that it has a 1% market share (and probably the diversity and skill factors to some extent).

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