ubuntu-us-nj Viruses and security concerns

brent timothy saner brent.saner at gmail.com
Sun May 3 21:49:14 BST 2009

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dtgusa at gmail.com wrote:
> Greetings and good day to you all:
> Some of my IT buddies have stated that Ubuntu and all Lunix based OS are
> virus leeches.  Their arguments are based in being open sourced and the
> super user command to gain root access. 

heh. this is a plain ol' example of FUD. there has never been, nor do i
expect there to ever BE, any widespread GNU/Linux virus. this is because
the virus is usually stopped in its tracks. don't get me wrong; i'm not
saying *nix virii haven't been written (they have) and i'm not saying
they don't work (they do)- but simply said, the true definition of virus
 means they're self-replicating/spreading. this simply doesn't happen on
a *nix box.

being open sourced is the strongest defense AGAINST virii- non-partisan
peer-review. plus you're usually getting it from your distro's package
manager, which has its own team reviewing.

there are exceptions (i.e.: the Debian and derivatives' SSL fiasco about
a year ago), but these are again under peer review- and they aren't
viruses. they're vulnerabilities- quite different.

essentially, a virus would need to be installed via root to be
successful at what it does.

what this comes down to is the user, though- the weakest point here is
the user knowledge, not the OS design. when you install a linux distro,
you aren't the root user by default- at most, you're a user with sudo.
this still needs your password to be successful.

as far rootkits, etc. these are NOT viruses. these are a result of weak
root passwords/poor security practice. and that is 99% of the time the
user's fault- they've picked a weak password and were cracked, etc.

> Is this true?  If yes, how does the risk compare to Windows?
> If no, (in simple terms please) why? 

the biggest differences here as to why the above claim is false:

- -personal user does not have "administrative" (root) privileges by default
- -default for GNU/Linux is "unless you open something up, it's closed"
(such as firewall/services etc.)
- -software comes from distro's repositories, which is under peer review

- -personal user granted administrator privileges
- -default is to open services unless user closes them (i.e. RPC, etc.)
- -users install third-party applications they download themselves, often
closed-source, with no peer review ("online poker" spyware ploys, for

> Subordinate question; I read about a way to establish an encrypted
> folder(s).  Information and links to research this would be appreciated.


> Thank you in advance for your assistance,
> DTG 
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