A virus or two

Gilles Gravier ggravier at fsfe.org
Sat Nov 20 13:09:23 UTC 2010


On 19/11/2010 19:56, Doug Robinson wrote:
> Hello
>     While browsing at the local electronic toy store the topic of
> Linux arose. The man claimed that his linux system has had two viruses
> find their way into his system in the last year.
>     I have not heard much about nor experienced any such attacks on any of
> my linux systems .
>     What is the current state of the virus problem on the generic linux 
> system and should I become concerned enough to actually do something?
> Thank you for your time.
> dkr

Short answer is yes. :)

1) There are viruses for Linux.
2) They are hard to write. They require extensive knowledge of existing
bugs (unlike Windows viruses which tend to simply exploit design mistakes).
3) In *MOST* cases they only infect users' files... not system. But
that's not a SYSTEMATIC rule. Some will manage to get administrative writes.
4) For Linux, you find viruses, worms, rootkits, malicious scripts...

But... in terms of numbers... there are MUCH MUCH more viruses on
Windows. In general, a Linux machine doesn't really need an antivirus.
It's not IMPOSSIBLE to get a virus. But it's VERY UNLIKELY. (Unlike for
Windows where it is VERY LIKELY).

The guy was probably trying to sell you a Windows system... with a
valid, but unlikely scenario.


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