Linked by Amjith Ramanujam on Sat 19th Jul 2008 19:01 UTC, submitted by cypress
Linux Linux and UNIX-like operating systems in general are regarded as being more secure for the common user, in contrast with operating systems that have "Windows" as part of their name. Why is that? When entering a dispute on the subject with a Windows user, the most common argument he tries to feed me is that Windows is more widespread, and therefore, more vulnerable. Apart from amusing myths like "Linux is only for servers" or "does it have a word processor?", the issue of Linux desktop security is still seriously misunderstood.
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ABI and UBI
by Almindor on Sun 20th Jul 2008 10:45 UTC
Almindor
Member since:
2006-01-16

It's all about ABI and usage style for viruses. Trojans are a bit of a different beast but even those are less "able" on Linux.

For a virus to work properly on an OS it has to depend on some weakness. This is usually some sort of buffer overrun combined with known memory layout or more elaborate stuff. The key thing here is OS stability. Permissions and usage style aside, Linux is so damn unstable when it comes to ABI that anything which depends on some sort of set memory layout will simply work only on 1% of the targets (different settings, different lib version, different compile-time switch, etc. etc.). The only "stable" part of Linux OS is the kernel and even that can change a lot by just different settings.

So a cross-distro virus is almost as hard as cross-platform virus (even for one architecture).

Linux also limits the possibility of virus and trojan propagation because of the package based redistribution. Sure one could infect a repository but official ones are very unlikely to get infected and 90% of users don't have unofficial 3rd repositories. Sure there's a program here and there installed directly from deb/rpm/whatever but it's rare.

So it's not about the number of users as much as it's about the number of 3rd party programs available.

IMHO a virus won't survive on Linux for long, if anything then because of it's ever-changing nature.

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