Do You Think Linux Is More Secure Than Other OS?

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There’s an old school of thought that says that Linux is more secure than other operating systems. This topic has been hotly debated over the years. What’s your opinion? Do you think Linux is more secure than other OS?

Some consider the security of Linux to be a myth and don’t believe it’s any more secure than Windows or Mac OS X. Others like to think that it is very secure. There are so many opinions out there that it’s difficult to get to the bottom of this issue and get to the truth.

Those that feel that Linux isn’t any more secure than other operating systems point to the lack of popularity of it. Similar to Mac OS X, since there are less Linux systems in operation than Windows, those looking to do malicious things to operating systems aren’t targeting Linux. They want more bang for their buck, so to speak, so they’re more likely to target Windows systems to get more victims.

What do you think? Are you using Linux because you believe your information is more secure on this system than on others? Or do you think it’s no safer than any other available operating system?

Do you think Linux is more secure than other OS?

Image Credit: Tux powa!!

15 comments

  1. Linux is more secure than Windows and OS/X but not as secure as BSD. However, it and any other O/S is as secure as the user allows it to be. If the user ignores common sense security procedures, (s)he can cause even the most secure O/S to be compromised. Ultimately it is the user who determines how secure a system is.

    The contention that hackers concentrate on attacking Windows because it is so popular is a red herring. About two-thirds of world’s server run either Linux or BSD but it is the Window servers that are compromised more often. There are no backdoors built into the Linux kernel or Linux programs as there are in Microsoft products.

  2. “Less Linux systems in operation?”. This is true for linux as a desktop platform, but let’s not forget about the web which is largely driven by Linux servers and of course Android which is on a few billion devices.

    My father is a locksmith, and although he works in a more physical realm his opinion on security is true for computers regardless of the operating system. “If someone wants in bad enough they’re going to get in”.

  3. I feel that security is a two way street….yes, if someone really wants what’s on your computer they will try to find a way to get it. But if you’re JUST as determined to keep all others OUT?…then no matter what they try your system will remain secure. The problem is this: most people (and bear in mind I said MOST and not ALL, so please don’t reply either attacking me or defending yourselves! LoL!) Most folks are “content” to set some sort of security feature and let it run in the background….thinking that it will stop any and all threats to a user’s systems. This is “false sense of security” computing. NO system will be secure unless you CONSTANTLY “attack” the issue with aggressive security practices. What do I mean by that? Well here’s how I treat my systems on a daily basis.
    *I change the passwords for logging into my computers every day.
    *I don’t use the same password more than once per every 6 months.
    *I change the passwords for my online computing and social media daily.
    *I run RKHunter and ClamAV and a slew of other system monitoring programs daily.
    *I check my systems logs once a day…and its usually before I start my day on the PC, this way if I see something out of place or funny looking I have time to investigate it.
    *I clear out every temp file…..cookie….gif…and anything else that might have been downloaded whilst the system is running.
    *I encrypt my entire hard drive and follow that up with disk utility checks.

    I know this sounds like a lot of work. Essentially it’s a second job for anyone, and for those who have kids, or a demanding career this is definitely going to be hard to do on a daily basis. But for those who might have the time, and who can be diligent enough? The reward is that you never have to worry about your data being stolen, your system being hacked or finding malicious programs on your home systems. Some thing that make this a bit easier:
    Random Password Generator
    ClamAV
    RKHunter

    Just my thoughts on the matter.

    Cheers!

    EGO II

    • Those are all great preventative measures. However, the frequency in which you perform them borders on paranoia…
      -Changing passwords every month or 3 is usually fine.
      -Running weekly Full-Scans is sufficient. Daily scans can be used for just boot-sector checks.
      -Clearing all Temp files too often actually hinders the speed of your system. Monthly cleaning should be fine. Weekly for the overly-cautious.
      -I agree that the logs do need to be checked daily, but it’s more to keep them from piling up, than anything.

      If people spent that much time preventing attacks, that are likely to never come (for home users), they would never have time to enjoy their computer… Working in IT security, I can tell you that there needs to be a balance. Security, but not at the expense of functionality.

  4. With Linux, you can boot from a live USB, do your bank account transactions and then shut down your PC. There is nothing more secure than this. You have not this option with windows.

  5. Free software is tested before distribution under Linux. Malicious software can be reported and removed from the distribution site. There is no such mechanism under windows. Trusted software in windows is only non-free commercial software.

  6. Dear Friends,

    I think that we must say something because a lot of you do not understand what Linux is..!! No .. no .. I am not an excerpt I am only Third Level Kernel programmer and I am telling you this : Nothing is safe or safer than any other .!
    First let’s say a few words :

    1] Linux is a big idea and when you are referring to Linux you are talking in General. Linux is Free BSD , Fedora , Ubuntu , Kubuntu , SUSE , …and so much more…!! These are called distributions and they all have one and only Kernel in two versions… (32bit and 64bit) or ( preferred to say lately from 2Gb and up or down..!! {this is a little bit different but not discussed here} ). I read someone say …”but Linux is more secure than Windows and OS/X but not as secure as BSD.” this is very wrong because BSD have 3 other distributions and of course they are all Linux kind.! In general they are all LINUX Systems.
    2] Other said this : “….This is true for linux as a desktop platform”… Well Linux never had a desktop platform before in his life..!! The X11 system in Linux generally was introduced very late and it is a totally different thing at all. (again not explained in here.!) So when you referrer to Linux generally you do not mean the form that has today but yo are referring to the Kernel of it as it is very important to the stability of the hole OS.
    windows was build from the start with a window manager.! Linux generally , through the years has developed meny different window Managers to support the X11 Desktop System.
    Msdos was a coexistence system with early windows because Microsoft did half the job… ( you know what I mean ?)

    3] Someone said : ” With Linux, you can boot from a live USB, do your bank account transactions and then shut down your PC..” This is not an OS thing , but depend on your Bank’s Security. Now days every transaction is done inside your browser and doesn’t matter from where you boot or if you have the OS on flash or on a hard drive..!! The trails you are leaving are all inside the WWW and not in your computer , unless you are dump enough to save credit card info or other account numbers on your disk.! If you do so , then flash is a very BAD IDEA..!!

    4] Someone posted : “…Malicious software can be reported and removed from the distribution site…” Do not forget that people how actually works in the communities are not working people , what I mean is that … they WORK FOR FREE, Except some distributions like Red Hat for example who actually give support by payment for some big corporation centers…!! Only a small community is actually working for the common good. There are a lot of mistakes and believe me they are not corrected in time ..most of them.

    5] Security and functionality do not came together. ! You gain to one , you loose to the other. That is the computer life…lol.

    • Linux is “NOT” Free BSD, however it is very similar on many levels. But don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re the same, because they’re not, they’re both “UNIX LIKE”, but not in the same ways and certainly not “Alike Enough” to keep you out of trouble! …In fact, if someone who’s only ever used one, jumps over to the other, (assuming that they’re both the same) he’ll get himself into trouble.

      They’re just similar enough to generate a false sense of security, which is often just before you end up running a Linux command which does something quite unique on FreeBSD and usually not good, like permanently killing some important data, whilst mounting / unmounting drives from the terminal, or after modification to fstab:

      (Extract taken from article @ https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/a-comparative-introduction-to-freebsd-for-linux-users )

      THE FREEBSD LINEAGE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS:

      “Another important difference between FreeBSD and Linux systems is the lineage and history of each system. Along with the licensing differences discussed above, this is perhaps the largest influencer of the philosophy that each camp adheres to.

      Linux is a kernel developed by Linus Torvalds as a means of replacing the education-oriented, but restrictive MINIX system that he was using at the University of Helsinki. Combined with other components, many coming from the GNU suite, an operating system built on the Linux kernel has many Unix-like properties, despite it not being directly derived from a previous Unix OS. Since Linux was started from scratch without some of the inherited design choices and legacy considerations, it can differ significantly from systems with closer ties to Unix. …”

      FREEBSD FLAVORS OF COMMON TOOLS:

      “… .Another aspect of FreeBSD systems that might cause confusion for Linux users is the availability of familiar tools that operate slightly differently than they would on Linux systems.

      The FreeBSD team maintains its own version of a large number of common tools. While many of the tools found on Linux systems are from the GNU suite, FreeBSD often rolls its own variants for its operating system.

      There are a few reasons for this decision. Since FreeBSD is responsible for developing and maintaining the core operating system, controlling the development of these applications and placing them under a BSD license is either essential or useful. Some of these tools also have close functional ties to the BSD and Unix tools from which they were derived, unlike the GNU suite, which in general tends to be less backwards compatible.

      These differences often manifest themselves in the options and syntax of commands. You may be used to running a command in a certain way on your Linux machines, but these may not work the same on a FreeBSD server. It is important to always check the man pages of commands to get familiar with the options for FreeBSD variants. …”

  7. Yes , you are right..!! I want to correct some things first..!!

    Free BSD is UNIX-Like operating system and not a Linux which is a clone of Unix , BUT… when we referring to a Unix type system we usually say “Linux” because :

    1] GNU/linux is a free operating system Unix like but it has a kernel designed by Torvals called “linux” which is written in C , C++ , Java , Perl and LISP of course and GNU operating system and all together is called LINUX.
    2] Almost every one out there has developed code from the GNU project so they are all like GNU/Linux types …
    3] BSD is not a LINUX as it comes to his kernel but it has a lot of free code from the GNU Operating System. It’s kernel is Independent and it’s birth is from Unix 6-7 clone type .

    4] So Free BSD is completely different from GNU/Linux as it comes to his kernel but looking with a wider eye we can say that both are quite the same as it comes to the GNU.!!!
    FreeBSD is one of the 4 and not 3 , as I said before , of the BSD Unix like operating Systems and it is the most corrupted of all with GNU code.
    If I am not mistaken , NetBSD ( one of the 4 BSD operating systems) have a distribution called DEBIAN GNU/ NetBSD ..!!!! But was abandoned in 2002.
    Linux came from minix ( mini -unix ) which is a clone of unix but with a micro-kernel architecture . It was re-licensed under the BSD license in April 2000. This means that Minix version 3 and above was released under NetBSD..!! In simple terms , BSD developers has taken the Minix 3 kernel and above and put other stuff around it and made the NetBSD.!!!
    As to Linux generally speaking…we can say that the development was done on MINIX using the GNU C compiler. The GNU C Compiler is still the main choice for compiling Linux today. The code however, can be built with other compilers, such as the Intel C Compiler.!

    I hope now that anyone can understand why all are called “LINUX” in general..!!!

    Some thoughts..
    ————————–
    I have to say that we all must not forget the Minix which is developed by Tanenbaun . All others came from this..!!!

    • arxaios,

      You are so wrong. UNIX was invented at Bell Labs in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Debian is a distribution of linux. It has nothing to do with any of the BSDs. The name “linux” was invented by Linus Torvalds.

      The BSD Unixes are probably more secure than linux. Solaris is also more secure than linux. HP-UX I do not know about its security.

      The graphical user interface to linux, X-windows, was actually invented at MIT in 1984. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X_Window_System . There were non-X-windows GUIs to UNIX ‘way before then.

  8. I think the black hats of the world do target Windows far more than Linux &FreeBSD for one simple reason, far too many Linux users practice at least some of what Eddie G. suggested while over on Windows there are millions of users who barely know how to work a keyboard and mouse and have no idea what firewalls and log files are..

  9. To preface this, I have to say that I am aware a large number of servers run some form of Linux. I’m just talking about personal computers here because an individual user is less likely to know to take security precautions, or which precautions to take, when it comes to computing. While running a web server is not hard, it is definitely out of the immediate skill range of the average computer user.

    That being said, 80% of users use some form of Windows (according to browser statistics at by W3 Schools, keeping in mind some people report even higher numbers of Windows usage). Along with that, almost every workplace is going to use Windows, and almost every pre-built home computer or laptop comes pre-installed with Windows. I think it’s safe to say that learning how to infiltrate or develop viruses for Windows machines is a better bet from the perspective of a potential cyber criminal. So while Linux may not have as many security features built in (I’m not saying that any particular distro doesn’t, I’m saying that any given one may or may not), or as many options when it comes to security software, it’s fairly unlikely that a Linux user would encounter a program that is designed for the operating system they use, or encounter a criminal who is prepared to deal with it. In that respect, Linux is more secure. However, by that logic, the more obscure the operating system you use, the more secure it is. And I’m just not comfortable installing “Jerry’s First OS” on my PC, as a lesser known operating system will likely have less people checking for issues regarding its security, and/or will have very little to no options in regards to third party security solutions.

    But if I have to choose, I’d say that most Linux operating systems are obscure enough to be protected from most viruses and attacks, while simultaneously widely used enough to have significant security options available, both built into the OS and available via third parties.

  10. I voted that “Linux is no more secure than any other OS.” Based on the point the author made that “since there are less Linux systems in operation than Windows, those looking to do malicious things to operating systems aren’t targeting Linux. They want more bang for their buck, so to speak, so they’re more likely to target Windows systems to get more victims.” It’s not that Linux is MORE secure, it that is just isn’t as a much of a popular target. If everyone used Linux then the hackers would create bugs for Linux and not the little guys.

  11. Regardless of whether Linux is technically more secure or not, I would argue that it is more secure for the average desktop user for one key reason. The fact that you can get most (for many people, all) of your software from your distro’s official repository (and the package manager verifies the downloaded package) highly reduces the probability of accidentally installing malicious software, which is one of the biggest threats to desktop users. There are repos in BSD, too, but as far as I know, they are not stringently audited as they are in many distros (e.g., Debian) (please correct me if I am wrong on this as I am not too familiar with BSD).

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