Does Linux need Anti-Virus?
I’ve seen this question posted around the Internet lately. It seems with many high profile hacks (Sony comes to mind) it’s really no surprise pundits are starting to wonder the validity of current assumptions that certain operating systems like Linux and derivatives are safe.
We all know Window’s track record and what happens when things go badly. But I have to give Microsoft credit for its efforts. In contrast I wish Apple would take note from Microsoft’s playbook and learn something. Apple is sticking to their guns and claiming or rather preaching the false perception of immunity to such things. Which we all know is false and simply a case of blind leading the blind.
While an infection or hack requires the alignment of the right actions at the right time, sadly most are caused by human ignorance, human error, or human stupidity, greed whatever you want to call it. Either way you slice it, the human factor is always involved.
So again this begs the question does Linux require Anti-Virus?
Those of us running Linux desktops can claim superiority, but is that the right attitude? While some can and probably will hide behind the argument, there aren’t enough Linux desktops out there for virus writers to spend time and effort. Others will claim superiority of O/S design.
Those may be valid points, and may apply at certain times. I however would take a more cautious approach and simply say ‘It depends”.
You’re thinking that’s not much of an answer. “Depends” on what?
RISK! – How much risk are you willing to accept?
It’s a balancing act between how much risk we’re willing to accept and the likelihood of something bad happening.
We’re human and we’re all different, which means we have different levels of risk. I may accept less risk on Windows than my Ubuntu netbook simply because I know the likelihood of something bad happening while using Ubuntu is much lower than Windows. Therefore I will adjust my usage accordingly. Does that mean Ubuntu or Linux is immune?
I don’t think so, I believe there is always the chance of an obscure unknown virus or Trojan infecting even Linux, however unlikely. Which actually scares me more, because Anti-Virus vendors are not as engaged, in looking for Linux viruses than Windows. Such things may go unnoticed under the radar. Exactly the type of situation Virus writers want. Ultimately software is written by humans, and we do make mistakes. This opens the door to the possibility of subversion.
Therefore I will simply say this; if you’re unwilling to accept the level of risk, then you need Anti-Virus even when using Linux, Unix and derivatives.