is Linux really secure?

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23/01 So i’m standing infront of my honours (I.S.) class delivering a presentation on the alternatives to Microsoft, particularly in the Operating System (OS) environment, boasting about how secure Linux is (40 known viruses compared to the 60,000+ viruses for the Windows platform), when two of the guys in my class (let’s call them Billy and John) lash out at my statement.
They argue that they are not yet convinced about the security of Linux. Billy and John are both in the IT security industry and have many years of experience behind them. John even ventured into the hacking arena once, but didn’t get very far.

With all the hotfixes and patches, the irritating worms and viruses, hanging of the system, and the what-we-have-become-accustomed-to ‘send’/’do not send’ reports of Windows XP, there are actually some people in the IT industry who like Windows. These guys swear by it, unlike most of the people i know who swear AT it!

Microsoft’s company history is very interesting and very exciting, yet dodgy and full of legal battles – from accusations of ‘stealing’ others’ ideas and branding it with their logo, to using their world monopoly to unfairly bring about the downfall of other software companies (e.g. Netscape). No wonder people are ‘attacking’ them.

Billy and John’s arguments were quite interesting and needs more research on my behalf. But one question they did pose was:
Microsoft is the big boy in the industry and that is why they are being ‘attacked’ by viruses, hackers, worms, etc. People want to see them suffer and squirm. It is more fun to attack them than anyone else. How long before will it start becoming attractive to find ways to ‘bug’/’attack’ Linux? Think about it, Linux is Open Source Software (OSS), and the code is available to all. If there are holes, they can be found in the source, and used to fulfill whatever purpose.

But remember too that just as easily as it might be to find a hole in the source, their are thousands out there who will find it too and fix it. That’s the beauty of OSS – World community involvement.

So, how does Windows compare? and just how secure is Linux? what is AppArmor?

Your comments are most welcomed.

dragon’s pond:
OpenBSD claim to be the most secure Unix-flavoured OS in the world today with ‘Only one remote hole in the default install, in more than 8 years!’,
and MANY will argue that Apple’s MacOS is probably the most secure OS ever!

I use Suse Linux.

– dragonfly

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