Going Linux

   for computer users who just want to use Linux to get things done

Don't use Linux because it's free. Use it because it's safe.

Updated: 02-Oct-2016

Virus-proof your computer

I was browsing my news feeds today and came across a pair of articles and videos by Angel Garrote (Another Virus Proof HP laptop computer and Installing Linux – Ubuntu on an HP Laptop) where the (Windows) computer repair tech said he was going to virus-proof a computer for a customer. He commented, "...this is a computer that was all junked up, spyware, malware, couldn’t get on the internet you know all the stuff that happens to your Windows computer." Reading further, I discovered that what he meant was not that he was going to install antivirus software, enable automatic Windows updates, change the account type to "Limited", make Firefox the default browser, and install Adblock Plus. No, he meant that he would install Ubuntu Linux!

Combination lock

This got me to thinking. The marketing message provided by Linux advocates like myself, often centers around discussing that Linux is a modern operating system that is both Free (as in free speech) and free of charge, and that there is a great user support network in the Linux community. I think we've had it all wrong! The message should not be "Use Linux because it's a free, Free, well-supported, and modern operating system." Instead, the message should be, "Use Linux because it's safe."

So, how safe is Linux, really?

In an article I wrote a few months ago, I answered this question with "Four Reasons Why Linux Is More Secure" than Windows.

  1. Linux can get viruses and other infections... but, as a rule, it doesn't. Rapid and timely updates ensure that there are very few, if any threats to Linux systems that persist in the wild. In reality, there have been very few "public" infections in the last 10 years that can even affect Linux. And because Linux distributors release Linux and application security updates very quickly, those few old attacks have long ago been eliminated as a threat to anyone installing or using modern Linux distributions. Linux is designed to make it difficult for viruses, rootkits and other malware to be installed and run without conscious intervention by you, the user. Even if you do accidentally invite an infection into your computer, chances are it's designed to attack Windows and can do no damage to your Linux system.
  2. When you use a distribution of Linux, security updates, driver updates, application updates, software upgrades and operating system upgrades are all provided, and all are free of charge. And they are all available from trusted sources. So you have no more need to search the Internet for software. No more risk of getting malware or junkware infections as a result of downloading from the wrong site. There are thousands of software titles in hundreds of categories available in your Linux distribution’s repositories -- the ultimate in a trusted source!
  3. Linux is designed with security in mind. Unlike operating systems that update only once a month, Linux distributions receive updates continuously. The updates include security patches for the operating system and all of its components. Security updates for all of its installed applications are also provided on the same schedule. This ensures that you have the latest protection for all of your computer's software -- as soon as it's available!
  4. Another significant security feature of Linux is that its users, by default, are not administrators. Administrators ("root" users) on any computer system have permission to do anything they want, including do damage to the system. To illustrate, here is an example. Other operating systems look at the name of a file to determine which program should open it, then immediately attempt to open it. That design makes it easy for an intruder to leverage that behavior to attack your computer. On the other hand, Linux opens a file based on what the file is, not based on its name. So even if a malicious program disguises its identity by using a name like "Business Proposal.docx" Linux will recognize the file as a program. The system provides a warning that the file is not a text document, but that it is really a program that will be run if you give it permission to continue. To be extra secure, Linux requires you to provide your administrator password to grant that permission. Every single time.

These four reasons don't simply detail why Linux can be used to virus-proof your computer. They reveal the real reason you should use Linux. Use Linux because it's safe!

Additional Reading

If you want additional information about how to keep yourself safe using Linux on your computer, here are a few links on basic Linux security for you:

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