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Are Linux OS necessarily free from virus?





likeabreeze
take ubuntu for example,
they say, "No viruses- Life's too short to spend it worrying about viruses.", "0 worries"
I know Windows is the target of many viruses, but if somebody created a virus targeted at Linux OS, would the Linux OS get infected?
ocalhoun
Linux would be more resistant to viruses because of its better internal security, but it is still, in theory, possible to infect Linux with a virus.

The main reason Linux doesn't have viruses is that nobody writes viruses for Linux.

Suppose you wanted to make a virus...
You've got a couple choices:
1- Take the very difficult task of developing one that will work on Linux and infect (at maximum) 5% of the computers in the world.
2- Take the relatively easier task of developing one that will work on Windows and infect (at maximum) 90% of the computers in the world.

Now, assuming your goal is to infect the largest number with the least effort, which are you going to choose?
Peterssidan
I think the average Linux user is clever enough to understand that he should not install whatever untrusted garbage he finds. Many programs can be installed through the package management system so if you can trust the people behind your distribution you will be quite safe installing from there. Many programs used on Linux is open source and if you try to distribute a closed-source software less people will use it. Distributing an open source virus is possible but will probably not go unnoticed for very long.
darthrevan
In theory, yes. Well one point of view is that a basic computer user wouldn't know how to install linux apps by compiling them. They would more than likely be using the package manager provided by the Linux Distro. Also you can't wipe out any system files unless you run a malicious code as a superuser.
ocalhoun
darthrevan wrote:
Also you can't wipe out any system files unless you run a malicious code as a superuser.

You shouldn't be able to... but sometimes security flaws and loopholes can be exploited.

If you read the descriptions for security updates you get, you'll often see that they exist to fix such loopholes.

(Which by and by is something I love about most linux software. When they give you updates, they usually describe exactly what each update is supposed to do. I very much prefer to be informed about what I'm changing, and it helps me know which updates I really need and which ones don't actually do anything for me.)
manfer
The fact is that Windows users continue and continue and continue lying to themselves saying that their systems are vulnerable because there are lots of users using Windows and they will be blind forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and they even will continue spreading again and again that false statement that they read somewhere and seems to make sense for them.
sysna
actually linux can get virus too, but user levels are very well defined in linux, but any way if you go on and install a harmful software with root account of a linux os you can let the virus to do what it wants to do.

one other important thing is that most of linux users are professional users, i mean users of mac and windows are not aware about many things that linux users are. so i think this is why viruses are not designed for linux because users of linux os are more aware about softwares and will be more careful about harmful viruses.
darthrevan
ocalhoun wrote:
darthrevan wrote:
Also you can't wipe out any system files unless you run a malicious code as a superuser.

You shouldn't be able to... but sometimes security flaws and loopholes can be exploited.

If you read the descriptions for security updates you get, you'll often see that they exist to fix such loopholes.

(Which by and by is something I love about most linux software. When they give you updates, they usually describe exactly what each update is supposed to do. I very much prefer to be informed about what I'm changing, and it helps me know which updates I really need and which ones don't actually do anything for me.)


The openness of Linux us one reason I like it and like you say must apps list the changes up front or maybe in a changelog file
manfer
sysna wrote:
actually linux can get virus too, but user levels are very well defined in linux, but any way if you go on and install a harmful software with root account of a linux os you can let the virus to do what it wants to do.


If a user does this it means he is a virus, it is not that he got a virus in his computer.

The statement is not even true since the incorporation of SELinux on kernel 2.6 version. A malicious software can't do whatever it wants to do.

In a computer running linux a user can run a destructive command. I'm not going even to write any but you know, a command that destroys all the filesystem.

In a computer running linux a user can get mad and he can throw his computer onto the floor.

Yes everything can happen.

Yes, yes, yes, it is true, running linux on a computer doesn't make it invulnerable. Twisted Evil
johans
likeabreeze wrote:
take ubuntu for example,
they say, "No viruses- Life's too short to spend it worrying about viruses.", "0 worries"
I know Windows is the target of many viruses, but if somebody created a virus targeted at Linux OS, would the Linux OS get infected?


well, you still net to install anti-virus..very important.
Peterssidan
johans wrote:
well, you still net to install anti-virus..very important.

I don't agree. You should be able to stay uninfected by being careful. Anti-virus software slows down the computer and I don't think I will ever use one on my own computers again.
manfer
Peterssidan wrote:
johans wrote:
well, you still net to install anti-virus..very important.

I don't agree. You should be able to stay uninfected by being careful. Anti-virus software slows down the computer and I don't think I will ever use one on my own computers again.


It is a good idea to have an antivirus though you are using linux. And this doesn't mean a resident antivirus as a daemon.

You still should check for viruses from files you receive from any source other than enough reliable sources (highly reliable sources that would not need to be checked are for example official repositories). You should check if you have to send files to someone or somewhere (your hosting for example) those files to be sure you are not spreading viruses, no matter if those viruses are harmless for your system.

And obviously the people running linux servers, especially for mail servers, should definitely have an antivirus running as daemon checking all those mails that get out of the system.

So in my opinion yes still antivirus are needed on linux (though not needed as resident -as daemon- for desktop users).
siemens13
Yeah linux totally free from viruses that mans linux get not viruses.
melmoth
Gnu/Linux systems are practically free of viruses, but as there is a theoretical chance of getting one, you can't use the word necessarily Smile

Although, the main issue when setting up the Gnu operating system is to have a good users/permissions setup and consider other security aspects, like firewall settings.
darthrevan
siemens13 wrote:
Yeah linux totally free from viruses that mans linux get not viruses.


Yeah it is practically virus free, though it still can, somewhat. You have to install stuff through root or superuser. If it didn't need superuser access, it would only destroy files that doesn't need root access like your Home files.
welshsteve
Why these hideous people write viruses in the first place I do not know. It ruins everything and the world would be a much simpler place if it wasn't for these destructive people.

Anyway, on to the question. Virus writers tend to concentrate on the areas that affect the most people, which is why they don't tend to target linux, as it has such a small user base in comparison with windows and mac.
darthrevan
welshsteve wrote:
Why these hideous people write viruses in the first place I do not know. It ruins everything and the world would be a much simpler place if it wasn't for these destructive people.

Anyway, on to the question. Virus writers tend to concentrate on the areas that affect the most people, which is why they don't tend to target linux, as it has such a small user base in comparison with windows and mac.


I also think because it is easier to infect windows than it is with Linux.
appsapps
Malware writers do what they do to make money. They want the most money for the least amount of work. The market share that Windows has on the desktop makes it the most lucrative desktop target...today. That could change in the future. There is more and more malware being written targeting phone OS's, where Windows does not have the greatest market share. The vast majority of malware written for phones targets Android, which is Linux.

The idea that Linux is somehow protected from malware because it's a better more secure OS, or that its users are somehow smarter, is complete bunk. The OS hasn't really been a target, so it's security hasn't been fully tested in the world that the malware writers live in. And an OS is sometimes only as secure as the software running on it, how that software is configured, and how diligent the user is about keeping it updated. This is true for ALL OS's, not just Linux, or Windows, or Mac.

The desktop isn't the only place Linux is run. Web servers run Linux more than any other OS. WordPress is a common application run on web servers. Plenty of websites running WordPress have fallen victim to various exploits, mostly due to either being misconfigured, bad plugins, or a failure to update/upgrade plugins of WordPress itself. Thinks about the number of websites and blogs that have been hacked to insert malware code into them, or spam links. I hear about individual hacked websites almost as often as I hear about individual Windows users being hit with malware, and most of those websites are running WordPress on Linux.

On the desktop, Linux users might not be able to claim that they are the brightest of all users any more. The most popular desktop version of Linux is Ubuntu, which is easy to install. It can even be installed from within Windows, just like the average Windows app, with WUBI. Just click an .exe and away you go. No brain needed for that.

And the fact that it is free makes it attractive to the cheapskates among us, who might not necessarily be smarter. Frugality does not equal brains. Sometimes it means that the user wasn't bright enough to figure out how to install a free pirated version of Windows and get past activation and WGA checks, so they installed Ubuntu, because it was easier for them to do.

Also, the myth that Linux is somehow more secure attracts the idiots that aren't smart enough to be able to keep their Windows box clean of malware. They think they will be safer in Linux and bring their lack of brains and bad habits with them when they install it.

They fall into the same way of thinking that they did when they were on Windows, undoing the security measures in Linux just like they did in Windows, reconfiguring things to be "less annoying" and setting themselves up for the same kinds of issues they had when running Windows....weak passwords, running as admin/root, not updating their OS and software, etc.

These are the same people that would give their credit card numbers to a stranger on the phone, fall for every social engineering trick, would allow a stranger to walk them through reconfiguring their system and software, and even allow them to have remote access to their system, simply because someone called them and said they were from their ISP or OS company.

Just wait till the same social engineers start targeting Linux. They will call saying they are from Canonical or their ISP and walk those idiots through downloading, compiling, and installing trojans on Ubuntu desktops...and those idiots will willingly go out of their way to do it.

Some people are just very easy to talk into buying a gallon of blinker fluid, and their OS can't protect them, no matter what they are running or how secure it was designed to be.
zaxacongrejo
in my opinion safty is a continous process of learning it dosent matter the OS
it dosent mater the method used to harm a machine
what really mater is ho is beind that or those machines, and the time the dedication and ressources
that person has
manfer
appsapps wrote:
Malware


You should try to learn the difference between malware vs virus.

As much as people want to argue that Windows sense of insecurity is only because of their high market share it is wrong. Windows is insecure system period and if you are an experienced user you can minimize the consequences of that insecurity.

When someone hacks a wordpress site because of a bug on core wordpress code or a bug in a plugin has nothing to do with operating system security. This people destroy the wordpress site not the machine in which that website runs. Most of the times and if all is properly configured will not affect even any other website on the same server.

You are comparing apples and oranges.
appsapps
manfer wrote:


You should try to learn the difference between malware vs virus.



Viruses are malware, but not all malware is a virus.

Malware includes viruses, trojans, spyware, and any other malicious or unwanted software. It is a blanket all-inclusive category of bad software that you do not want on your system.

When someone hacks a windows system, it rarely ever has to do with the OS itself, and is usually some other software that gets exploited, such as a browser, Java, 3rd party firewall, or something else...just like how Wordpress gets hacked. It's not comparing apples to oranges, because it happens on both OS's. Poorly written software is not exclusive to Windows. Old outdated software is not exclusive to Windows.

I was involved in the clean-up of a linux web server being hacked, where they got in through exploiting a bug in an outdated version of some sort of version control app running on the server. Once they were in, they ran a script that inserted trojan code into every HTML page the server hosted.

Was it the fault of Linux? No. Was it the fault of the outdated version control software? No. It was the fault of the user the system belonged to, who didn't keep his software updated or uninstall things he no longer needed. Stupid and/or lazy users are not exclusive to Windows.

When a Windows user gets hit with a drive-by malware while surfing the internet with Firefox, is it Window's fault? No. When a stupid user downloads attachments from unknown senders and gets infected, is it the fault of Windows? No. When the user refuses to run an antivirus and has no idea they are infected till they are infected with so much crap the machine will barely run, is that the fault of Windows? No. When people are running around still using IE6 on some old unsupported version of Windows that no longer receives security updates, because they refuse to upgrade their old OS, is that the fault of Windows? No. Old versions of Linux aren't supported either and there are plenty that are more insecure than Windows 98/ME, and you don't hear of anyone blaming Linux in these cases, but they will still unfairly blame Windows for the same kind of crap.

The weak link in almost all malware attacks, regardless of OS, is the user...not the OS.
manfer
Sorry but you are totally confused and or you still try to on purpose not pay attention to the fact that the thread ask about viruses or you still don't know the difference between viruses and the rest of malicious software that can infect a computer.

Most of malware are not viruses, including trojans.

None of your example is an example of a virus.

And no matter how much people try to get convinced it is not OS fault and it is the user the responsible of the lack of security of the OS, he is not.

But just if you want an example of how is the lack of security of Windows, just not so long ago, 2008 a trojan called mebroot was able in windows systems to infect no more no less than the master boot record of the hard drive. The same won't ever happen on linux as no matter even that someone runs a trojan and gains access to the system he will need to gain root access to make such a harm to the computer.

And yes it is lack of security of the operating system when you browse the web and anyone can show you a message to fool you into installing malware just by clicking a button pretending being a codec for example to watch a video. That wont happen in linux, the website can try to fool you and even try to convince you but for sure you are going to have to do far more than only click some buttons to get infected.

And lots and lots and lots of bad security of all sorts in windows architecture all over the history. Lack of security that is not present in linux nor in any other nix system: Mac OSX, BSD, ...

Once a windows system is infected pray what you got into your computer is not too malicious -luckily normally it is not the purpose of malicious software to destroy the systems-.

It is obvious that the user is responsible too but no, not at all, it is not only their fault.
manfer
appsapps wrote:

... When people are running around still using IE6 on some old unsupported version of Windows that no longer receives security updates, because they refuse to upgrade their old OS, is that the fault of Windows? No. Old versions of Linux aren't supported either and there are plenty that are more insecure than Windows 98/ME.


Do you think there are still windows 98 out there. Almost negiglible amount. And as far as I know Windows XP is still supported.

Luckily you can run up to date light versions of linux even in quite old computers while you can't say the same about Windows.

A Pentium IV with 512MB with good graphic card runs XP SP3 just almost on limit but it runs smoothly a 2 years old linux version or a lightweight totally new version of linux. And runs just on the limit a totally new version of linux with one of the more recent window managers. I mean desktop obviously. As a server without a windows manager installed it can run any linux smoothly.
zaxacongrejo
Quote:
Do you think there are still windows 98 out there


thousands of them all over the place ATMs for example
welshsteve
manfer wrote:

Do you think there are still windows 98 out there. Almost negiglible amount. And as far as I know Windows XP is still supported.


Windows XP will be supported until April 2014. I got a big job on my hands getting my work place to upgrade now. We have about 70% windows xp machines, with the rest Windows 7, and they are reluctant to spend Sad
harrer
The security of a linux system depends solely on the user. On windows, the malicious software asks the OS to launch itself along with some decent looking software and gets admin privileges.
Another thing is that linux is full of open source software and this means that all the code is checked by the community.
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