Linux will get lots of viruses one day!

I’ve been seeing this meme quite a lot, lately. It is usually accompanied with, “And anyone who ignores the threat has their head in the sand,” and other platitudes. To any Linux users who might be spooked by this revelation, and to the trolls who spread it, I refer you to Feynman,

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.


3 Responses to “Linux will get lots of viruses one day!”

  1. 5 July, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Possibly related posts gives me a link to Free AVG Anti-Virus for Linux Is A Must Have. Haha.

  2. 5 July, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Viruses are so 1990s.

    But if Linux gets popular some day, it will get a lot of ignorant users, who will get tricked into installing a lot of trojans.

    • 5 July, 2009 at 7:47 pm

      Ah, trojans. They’ll get a few of the low-hanging fruit, no doubt, but I doubt they’ll be so much of a problem for the following reasons:

      The package manager. People won’t need to search the internet to install their software, they can get it from a trusted source.
      When people do need to search the web for software on Linux, either because it’s brand-spanking new or their distro hasn’t packaged it yet, the vast majority of downloads come from reputable sites (sourceforge, google code, as well as individual project pages usually with a strong community behind them).
      Fragmentation and diversity of distros. Are malware writers really going to try and package their software to work on so many things?
      It’s easy to see if downloaded files are what they say they are. Linux doesn’t hide file extensions. Malware sticks out like a sore-thumb.
      Lack of auto-run scripts for CD drives and USB sticks. You can’t install a trojan just by clicking the “browse contents” button. It has to find a very devious way to get into your system.

      I’m not doubting that malware cannot be made for Linux. I could write a script to do all kinds of nasty things, and it wouldn’t take long. But getting these things to spread successfully is exceptionally difficult. I don’t think any kind of malware has ever managed to spread across Linux machines. It could all change in the future, though. I think it is a problem that will affect Ubuntu the most. Ubuntu is the distro that most Windows users will be migrating to. And Windows habits die-hard. The regularity with which Windows-specific questions pop up in the forums alone is proof of that. I can see new users being duped into installing something dodgy. All we can really do is educate, educate, educate, I suppose.

      Either way, Feynman will still have been right regardless of the outcome. This pleases me.

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