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Linux and UNIX Security


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Is Linux and UNIX-like systems (inc. BSD) more secure than Windows systems (inc. 9x-based and NT-based) in terms of;

UAC vs. su

executable files

automatically running attached code in mail clients and desktop apps

etc.?

Edited by darrelljon
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I think it is more secure, but ppl dont have to agree with this but, with all the linux os i used before im sure that if ppl decided to write hakf the amount of viirus etc for these unix /linux based systems most ppl may stop using it, due to the amount of troubles you would have to go through to undo and remove the m....

so far the only thing i will give such systems ratings on is their GUI ( mandriva2008 ) :thumbup

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*nix compared to Win9x, of course *nix will win because 9x doesn't really have a security model at all (including the flat memory address space, where any running app or driver can write into another app or driver's memory range - including kernel memory!). As to the NT-based OSes, it will depend on what OS you're talking about.

If you compare NT4 to a modern Linux kernel+distro, it will be less secure on most fronts. However, if you compare Vista or XP, I think the comparison is favorable - XP and to a lesser extent Vista are out there in HUGE numbers, and are relatively secure (not secure, as nothing is truly secure if it's accessible on the public internet or a public network, but relatively secure is a good measure against usability).

The security model of least user privilege, if followed, in general will leave XP and Vista machines pretty safe. Coupled with a NAT router or firewall between the client and the internet (or host firewall and other machines on a public network), Windows is basically going to be basically protected against most (all?) remote active attack attempts (especially if the firewall is configured well, as it should be for all machines and networks, not just Windows).

However, the user is the weak link (especially with Windows, as more knowledgeable/savvy users are using *nix, whereas anyone and everyone seems to use a Windows box), making social engineering and "passive" (open this file and win a prize!!!) type attacks still work much easier than in *nix, due to the inherent nature of a much more agressive (and perhaps usable, but I won't get into that) model for LUA in *nix versus Windows (where everyone runs admin, partially because a lot of software requires that level to work - self-fulfilling prophecy in reducing security of the OS).

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@darrelljon

Since you've got a puppy link in your sig - this may not be the best distro if you are looking for security. I've not looked at 4 yet but in 3 there were no limited accounts, just root.

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I'll agree with cluberti here. In the end, the security of any modern operating system is "good enough" for most needs, provided that the users don't allow themselves to be an opening.

Part of the reason why malware isn't written for *nix systems is that their userbase is very limited. You're never going to collect as much personal data from linux users as you could from Windows users - simply based on market share. We are, however, seeing more and more malware targeted towards OSX now, since Apple's marketing campaigns (i.e. slander) have done well for Mac sales.

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