In response to “Use Linux and you’re malware free”

I’ve received the following comments on two of my posts and they look like this:

Charles Norrie said…
7:25 pm – February 1st, 2009

But it exploits vulnerabilities in Windows systems, so if you install a Linux system like Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex you won’t suffer malware problems again!

On Downadup/Conficker botnet estimated at 8.9 million according to f-secure

Charles Norrie said…
2:19 pm – February 1st, 2009Ubuntu is quite wonderful. Please reply to all news articles mentioning the Conficker virus saying that if users installed Ubuntu, they’d never have to patch their computers again.

Get the message out. We all benefit by persuading people to move to Linux!

On Backtrack 4 will be a full blown distribution

Now i originally wanted to reply with another comment but since the comment ended up a little bigger than i intended and because it expresses a lot of my views on this issue  i made a post out of it, so here it goes:

I have to disagree with you, because persuading people into using Linux just because it is a less prone to malware platform then Windows, is not the solution for the current security issues that exist nowadays. Malware does exist for Linux but it is not that abundant as for security bugs if we take only Windows in discussion and no other third party application then i really can’t say which one is more buggy, a Linux distro or Windows?Because i’ve seen all sorts of bugs in all kinds of places in both operating systems. And i say a Linux distro because it’s not fair to compare Windows with just the Linux kernel, because Linux is only the kernel after all, a Linux distro is what you can call an OS. Plus that the Linux kernel had and it currently has lots of bugs all over the places and new ones are discovered all the time.  Moreover if we make a comparison of security bugs that were discovered both in only the Linux kernel and the Windows kernel i can assure you that the Linux kernel had way more flaws then the Windows kernel afaik. To sum it up let’s say that a vast amount of the masses start shifting over night to Linux, just as you want, and then Linux becomes the leader in the OS market share, what happens then?All of the guys writing malware will shift their attention to Linux and then you will see the same flow and abundance of malware for Linux. Because it’s the same security unaware target audience, the same buggy code, the same people writing new code with the same security flaws, the same security mistakes made in software logic and design, etc…

Linux for the moment, in my opinion, has these advantages when it comes to being a primary target for malware:

  1. low desktop market share
  2. vast amount of distributions
  3. a big percentage of Linux users are tech savvy

Now let’s dissect those 3 advantages:

1.The market share that Windows currently has means only one thing: Way more people are working, banking, e-mailing, chatting and doing stuff on Windows thus a bigger profit is to be gained from targeting Windows users…it’s all business. And if it’s not business than it’s fun and let me tell you that it’s not fun to spend one week writing a piece of malware for Linux that works on at least 5 most used distros. What is fun, in the script kiddie mentality that flourished out there, is to use a lame .vbs *All in one – Virus Maker* and then share it on file sharing networks and watch people getting pwned. What about binding something like Turkojan on a stupid “Undress me” poker game and sharing it too?!? That is fun nowadays. Oh and if it’s not about fun than it is about 5th grade pride and proving that you are the best l33t haxxor out there. Which only lead to this defacement explosion in the past few years. If you can deface a website than you are a haxor. If you can deface a bunch of websites that your are a leet haxxor. But if you can deface Microsoft’s website while defacing 50 others in the other 50 browser tabs you have opened then you really are the most l333tzoor h@xx out there. Well let me tell you one thing, people who deface in those reasons are just plain stupid. They don’t realise or know how many things can be done with a boxen after pwning it(especially a high profile target :roll:) with a lame public for months exploit ,so they just resume at replacing index.html/.php/.asp with their own “I am teh skillzor and admin sucks! L33t Haxor skeelz pwned your boxen. Secure you website. Gritz to acid_piss, no_life and toilet_face!!!” .html defacement page.

2.The vast amount of Linux distributions out there make it hard to write a portable piece of malware that *works on linux* and that’s about it. Different kernel versions and modules, different library and program versions and choices, design and architectural differences all contribute with a certain level of skill required to write a good portable malware piece.

3.You probably guessed yourself, a big % of Linux users being tech savvy makes it not so easy to target them.

In conclusion “Use Linux and you’re malware and pwn free” is not the solution nor entirely true. I hate it when people push this kind of things to the public and it’s the same with the recently flowing bullshit that “Linux just works now!” or “Ubunt jost works!”. Bullshit. It doesn’t, unless you are a hacker(in the good sense) and like to get down with stuff. For the average human beeing that doesn’t know or want to know about computers or how they work  and they just want things like chatting and browsing and file sharing then Linux might actually stay in their way and make them unhappy and uncomfortable and thinking they’re stupid. If we take Ubuntu’s case then “Ubuntu is just working” is only bandwagon fantasia bullshit and not even Mark Shuttleworth has the courage to say that relating to the desktop market. So just leave it at that…Linux is Linux and Windows is Windows each one with it’s ups and downs. 🙂

 

3 Responses to “In response to “Use Linux and you’re malware free””

  1. Charles Norrie says:

    I must reply to Shinnok. Firstly, because a user has the right to worry only about his own machine. And if he convinces himself that Linux is less buggy than Windows, that’s his choice. He has no responsibity beyond his own interest.

    Yes it is possible to get malware on your Linux machine, but only by using it in ways that are stupid and hard to do – like running programs as administrator. And the last wild Linux bug was in 1995. You don’t need a third OS to make a comparison.

    You’ve seen all sorts of bugs in all sorts of places. What for Linux, pray?

    It is not fair to compare Linux with Windows as it is only a kernel.

    The kernel is actually the hard bit, and my Linux distro Ubuntu comes with 17000 free software packages and each of those software packages runs under Linux and cannot breach the Linux model.

    No piece of software from the repositories can give itself rights to allow the Linux machine to be infected.

    Please tell me the bugs that Linux suffers. I have yet to see the thing called kernel panic, but my Windows OSes often suffered from the blue screen of death.

    I think you’re confusing the fact that Linux systems may be automatically patched or improved on a daily basis, but that’s not a weakness that’s a strength.

    The bad guys will switch to Linux. They’ve had every opportunity to because half the servers in the world are Apache (Linux) based and they don’t run Linux malware, because by the Linux model they can’t. And don’t put forward the argument that then servers running Apache are passing on malware, for they are, (only as data to them) but that’s not their responsibility.

    You argument that Linux has more flaws than Windows is the same one your put above, which I refuted – Linux is a decent OS that doesn’t say it’s perfect, it says it’s a work in progress and acts accordingly.

    The same security issue with unaware audience. As a user I have a right to expect that the industry should supply software that works. Because of its ridicululous licensing system, Gatrsware manages to circumvent the ordinary provisions of the Sale of Goods Act, which would otherwise apply.

    Way more business is done in Windows than Linux. Firstly at server level that’s untrue, and the OS is irrelevent to the amount of business. The only issue should be that it should work.

    I really don’t understand your issue with hoaxers. Anybody can use any legitimate reason to avoid them though. I hope you are not suggesting Linux is not legitimate.

    Virtually every bit of code written for Linux will work on any other Linux. You don’t think those 17000 packages were written for Ubuntu alone, do you?

    There is huge commonality of different packages between different Linuxes.

    The vast majority of Linux users are not tech savvy and any amount of technical savviness would not prevent your computer being infected with malware, if that computer’s OS was not well designed.

    My conclusions are not entirely true. I think they are and you at least concede they have some truth.

    I don’t want to hack Ubuntu either for good or evil but simply use it as a well designed OS to do my work and hobbies on.

    Compuer geekery is all very well, and I have done almost all sorts of jobs from box-shifting to algorithm design, statistical analysis, high level modelling, systems admin, analysis on everything from paper tape to CDCs. And I’m interested in the pre-history of computers.

    But Ubuntu is just working and Windows, by a long chalk is not.

    Perhaps I will be able one day to persuade you that if Linux is made by geeks it should be used by the world.

    • Shinnok says:

      I must agree you have made some strong and true arguments, but i am not going to continue the talk trying to prove my points over you and you over me. As you probably already know this all Linux vs Windows argument talks never end with a common agreement between the implicated parties because all of the issues taken into account are to relative. All i can hope is that you understand my points in the post while i can assure you that i perfectly understand yours. I have nothing against Linux, i like it, i use it and i work on this powerful platform. But what i do disagree with is the attitude that Linux fans take over Windows and they throw all kinds of untrue statements whenever and wherever they can. As i summed my post Linux is Linux and Windows is Windows. They are two different OS’s each with their pro’s and con’s. Oh and i was careful in my post not to touch the server side because that’s a totally an other meal to be digested. My post was only related to the Desktop side. I generally stay out of discussions involving Linux over Windows or Windows over Linux. It’s a battle not worth to be taken especially if the peers involved are not worthy of it. You seem to be worth it though. >:)

  2. Charles Norrie says:

    Dear Shinnok,

    I realise I’ve stepped into a can of worms, but there’s a need to. At the moment there isn’t an informed amateur intelligent debate between the Windows communities and the Linux ones.

    I am interested in the history of science and it’s like the bust-up between the Darwin fanatics and the religious conservatives of the 1860s over the Theory of Evolution.

    Windows enthusiasts accuse me of being a Linux fanboy, a Scientologist and other names. Linux people tend to say that they’re not interested in talking to the real world of computer users out here.

    As a result the Windows user has little to go on but Microsoft hype and a partisan viral security industry which will disappear if a decent malware free OS becomes popular.

    As the marketing money wins every time, we continue to patch Windows.

    I shall continue my lonely crusade – this is not the only one!

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