Linux vs. Windows viruses: a rebuttal

Tuesday, 7 October 2003, 9:19 AM EST

The single biggest security issue facing Linux users at the moment is the misconception perpetuated by highly vocal advocates that Linux is somehow impenetrable to security-based attacks, and in particular, viruses and other malware.

That SecurityFocus would choose to publish a column designed to perpetuate this myth is a little disappointing, but there you go. What follows is a brief rebuttal of the article.

"None of the Unix or Linux viruses became widespread - most were confined to the laboratory."

Simply untrue. According to F-Secure, the bot-net created by Linux/Slammer reached around 14,000 machines. Compared to the number of infections caused by some Windows worms, this may seem quite small, but this number is by no means trivial. 14,000 machines focused in a DDoS attack against the root name-servers would easily render the net unusable for a majority of Internet users. The reason we have not seen malicious code exploit recent vulnerabilities in other widely-installed open-source applications is pure luck.

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