Anti-Virus Scamming?

By way of The Daily Blog, a Networking Computer blog, Wired News muses aloud about the possibility that anti-virus companies aren’t doing enough to solve the e-mail virus problem.

I personally don’t worry about email viruses as I use Linux. And contrary to some opinion that the only reason why Linux systems aren’t effected is because they’re not used as much, the fact is that Linux systems are simply not prone to being infected except by social engineering types of viruses.

Because of the UNIX/LINUX system of having multiple users, a regular user simply cannot run a program that will infect the system files, unless he or she does it as the super user (root).

That’s not to say that there aren’t trojans available for Linux – but most of them are not really for Linux itself, but rather for programs that may run on top of Linux that have vulnerabilities. But even then, there are safeguards built in that MS products simply don’t have.

But don’t you dare believe it when people tell you that the only reason there aren’t more Linux viruses is because the market for Linux isn’t big enough to warrant writing them. That is simply not true and proves the person has a false understanding of how UNIX and LINUX work. Using LINUX can be a bit more difficult at first, but no more so than someone who switches from an automatic transmission to a standard transmission. Once you get the hang of it, it’s great!

An updated Linux system is hard to crack. And there have been some real advances in GUI’s lately, with KDE coming out with a great desktop recently! And it’s free!

Anyhow, the article at Wired News is worth reading if you’re into information about viruses and provides some interesting discussion material. One of their conclusions is that if folks just used text based email, many viruses would be inefective. Personally, I think this is a great idea – I dislike HTML email and prefer text based.

I don’t know how many HTML emails I receive where someone has tried to use some fancy font, and weird background colours to make it look ‘nice’ but at my end, it looks like garbage – not all monitors display colours the same way. And, in order to view the font that you used, I need to have it on my system as well. This isn’t likely if this is some new font you just downloaded because you think it looks nice.

Have fun!

6 thoughts on “Anti-Virus Scamming?”

  1. Yup. I run Suse Linux here at home, (I like Windowmaker better than KDE though) and do my mailreading for the most part on a remote server, using Pine. Ya don’t get more virus proof than that.

  2. Windowmaker and Pine! Sheesh, you’re more of a geek than I am! 🙂 But you’re ri ght – you’ll never get an email virus. I have to say I really like KDE – especially when trying to introduce Windoze users to Linux 🙂 But that’s the nice thing about Linux. Choice!

  3. Ok…forgive me if this is a stupid question from a windozer, but if you used plain text format for your emails, wouldn’t that prevent you from using hyper links in the text that point me to this plethora of informative and thought provoking stuff you post? And while you may be right that “Linux systems are simply not prone to being infected”, deploying a virus to effect a dos attack from Linux users would be like wetting yourself in a dark suit…you’d get a warm feeling but nobody would notice. Perhaps when Linux improves its market share such that it becomes a legitimate platform to launch from, its vulnerabilities will become more apparent.

  4. To answer the first question – not necessarily. If the email application is set up to recognize hyper links, even if they are plain text, and can launch a browser, HTML is not required. In fact, all my emails are sent as plain text. There have been vulnerabilities in Linux – but generally speaking, they are fixed much faster. And what I was speaking of – email viruses specifically – are unlikely in Linux. it would take a lot more effort by the user to actually make the virus run. It has to be made executible for one thing, by the user. When you drop by, I can perhaps explain by showing you 🙂

    1. According to Forrester Research Inc. “Computing Infrastructures Senior Analyst Laura Koetzle finds that both Windows and Linux can be deployed securely. Microsoft Corp., however, fixes security problems the quickest…” 🙂 I recently went to a client’s place of business, installed a router and a new winbox complete with fresh antivirus software. As this customer has already experienced the misery of equipment failure due to malicious code, she asked me if she was now safe from viruses. I explained that if she kept her virus definitions and o/s patches updated she would be secure from almost everything. The only thing this configuration of equipment and software could not prevent was someone double-clicking an attachment. I’m not sure if she found any humour in that response. I did…I make part of my living off the ill-advised click of a mouse. An interesting article citing the above mentioned Forrester report is here: http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1557749,00.asp

  5. That’s an interesting article Rob – and the last phrase of the sentence is important too 😉 “which is a good thing, since it [Microsoft] also has the most major security holes.” I’m not sure about the quicker part from personal experience. I’d like to see some evidence for that – it could be true – but it hasn’t been what I’ve seen. The other problem with articles like this is what exactly are they comparing? Operating Systems? Are they including applications and programs that lay on top of the OS? And of course, are they comparing apples to oranges as in all Linux applications regardless of whether they are servers, work stations, etcs, to all deployments of Windows? It would make for a great discussion when you come by 🙂

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