25 May 2017

Why Is Linux More Secure Than Windows?

When choosing an operating system, there are many different factors that are taken into consideration. However, security is becoming increasingly important. You only need to look at the news to see the increasing number of data breaches that are occurring around the world at present. Choosing an operating system with care is your first step when defending your personal data. With that in mind, read on to discover the reasons why Linux is more secure than Windows.
Before we delve into the benefits, it is important to stress the fact that Linux systems are certainly not flawless - no operating system is. You will need to have additional security methods in place, including two-factor authentication, encryption, changing default passwords, and a high-level service, such as a push-button failover, for data disaster recovery if something does go wrong. For the best Linux password managers for enhanced security, click here, for hints on remembering password - here.

However, there is no denying that using Linux can reduce the chances of a breach happening in the first place. One of the reasons Linux is better for security is because social engineering is much more difficult to carry out. Social engineering is when worms and viruses are spread by convincing computer users to carry out an action that they shouldn’t, for example, open an attachment. The chances of this happening with a Linux system are reduced because the user would need to read the email message they received, after which the attachment would need to be saved, the user would then need to grant executable permissions, and finally, they would need to launch the executable. This is very unlikely. However, with Windows systems, all they need to do is open the email and click on the attachment. 

Another advantage to consider is the way account privileges are assigned. With Windows, administrator access is granted to users by default, which means that all users pretty much have access to everything on the system. As a consequence, viruses are going to have access to everything on the system too, meaning the effects could be devastating if a hacker finds a way in. Linux operates differently. Users are given lower-level accounts, which means that viruses won’t have root access if a Linux system is compromised, meaning the damage is lowered. 

Finally, let’s talk numbers. With Linux, there are many different mail clients, packaging systems, and shells. In fact, Linux even runs on a number of architectures beyond Intel. However, with Microsoft Windows, it dominates the computing world, as do Outlook and Outlook Express. This mere fact is where problems lie. Hackers can direct a virus squarely at Windows users because they virtually all use the same technology. However, it is much more difficult to reach a small fraction of Linux users.

As you can see, there are many reasons why you should consider Linux over Windows when it comes to security. From the way account privileges are assigned to the sheer numbers game, it is clear to see that Linux users have a lot less to worry about. Who wouldn’t want to benefit from an extra layer of security?

This is a guest post by Fat Joe

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  1. I am excluding Android from the following as although it is using Linux kernel it does not share most of the rest OS environment.

    The thing about users on Windows all having administrator privileges is not correct, however that is the case with most home users. Still Microsoft has mostly mitigated this with UAC and hiding the actual administrator account.

    Overall another difference between Linux and Windows is network philosophy. Linux is open network oriented and thus paranoid (which in security is a good thing). Windows is domain/intranet/closed network oriented, thus group policy, remote execution etc. administration and management technologies.

    Also I would say that Linux is more susceptible to breaches as thanks to its FOSS nature and network orientation, it has wider range of network services that could be potentially exploited for their vulnerabilities.

    Most Linux users however are more network aware and familiar with firewalls and basic security hardening. That makes huge difference. Linux users would more often be using dedicated routing device (hardware or software).

    Another thing going for Linux better security is the numbers. There are more Windows machines on the Internet and most of those are home machines. Linux is mostly used by private or public organizations and are often legally bind to uphold professional security standards (though practice shown that this might be neglected or slow to patch vulnerabilities, production environment happens on pre-planned schedule and that might not be very flexible or quick to happen). Lower numbers of machines equals to smaller environment for exploit or malware to propagate.

    My opinion is that every purpose needs it's tool and technologically Linux and Windows cannot be directly compared as they are very different in their core philosophy. neither has a clear advantage overall, but is rather the right tool for its respective job.

    However I still prefer Linux because i prefer the FOSS philosophy. But hen i am a gamer too and i am forced to dual boot to Windows for some of my favorite games. Hopefully I will need less and less (and that is already happening).

  2. Христо Радков - Both Windows and Linux are Operating Systems that provide a GUI to the user so that they can manipulate the machine in question to do their bidding. How are they different? (aside from the explanations given above.) Comparing them is no different to comparing Apple to Android. As for neither having the advantage? I disagree, Windows loses out to Linux, period. Yes, Linux is vulnerable, yes there are exploits, rootkits, and scripts that have been written for Linux that could bring a machine to a standstill. But here's a question: When is the last time you actually heard of something like that taking place? Most times when you read sites like this or others, and they're reporting about a vulnerability for Linux the article usually states somewhere within:: "A vulnerability EXISTS which COULD render the user's machine..."blah...blah...blah" - Never have you read about "A major virus stops University of "Where-Ever" in it tracks propagating over it's Open Source / Linux-Unix network"

    When you compare that to Windows?...you read about a breach, compromise, data theft, or attack DAILY, and THOSE are the stories that usually have "...the company states their servers went down for about the space of 3 hours, Network security isn't sure if any data was stolen, they are going over their files to find out...." This type of thing seems to be the norm in most Window environments. I know it might not be fashionable, but Linux is superior to Windows from a security standpoint in that the code is open and EVERYONE can see what's going on inside. Even if you or I WANTED to poison....say the next kernel release?....the amount of people who have to VIEW that code and then sign off on it for it to be released?....ensures that there's no way possible for the attack to be successful. Ok I'm done ranting!...LoL!

    1. You do have a point, however for Linux being network oriented, you don't really need to run malicious code on the system to steal sensitive data. I've seen many attempts on the servers we administer to compromise services like: MySQL, PHP, WordPress, Drupal, phpbb, vBulletin, proftpd, BIND, quagga, BASH, SAMBA, nginx, Apache httpd, Memcached, even IceCast and the list goes on.

      Few examples of such breaches (with Linux or BSD) are:

      - 1 Billion user accounts stolen from Yahoo (and this wasn't their first time): https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/14/yahoo-hack-security-of-one-billion-accounts-breached

      - Ubuntu Forums breach: http://www.zdnet.com/article/ubuntu-forums-hack-exposes-two-million-users/

      - Millions of STEAm game activation keys stolen: http://www.zdnet.com/article/millions-of-steam-game-keys-stolen-after-site-hack/

      - 2 Million DOTA 2 Forums accounts stolen: http://www.zdnet.com/article/dota-2-players-targeted-by-forum-hackers-in-new-breach/

      - 43 million accounts stolen from Last.fm: http://www.zdnet.com/article/hackers-stole-43-million-last-fm-account-details-in-2012-breach/

      - 1.34 billion email addresses (and other user data) compromised from River City Media: http://www.csoonline.com/article/3178395/security/spammergate-the-takeaway-lessons-and-follow-ups-on-the-river-city-media-data-breach.html

      - 85 million user accounts stolen from Dailymotion: http://thehackernews.com/2016/12/dailymotion-video-hacked.html

      ...and the list goes on.

      And if we do not look at Linux and Windows from only network security perspective - Windows has some unique and superior features. For one the Software and games library. Active Directory, Group Policy, Exchange to name a few. Things that allow for centralized administering of user permissions in a large organization (restricting hardware, like USB devices and leaking of internal data by employees). And more software, features and tools that in their respective role are superior to what is available for Linux.

      Windows loses out to Linux in some regards, but in others it is the other way around.

      It is in a way like comparing a Philips screwdriver to a flathead or rather to a hammer.

    2. AD is modified LDAP. Linux can be main domain server for windows machines for free. Do not see any benefit of windows in this field. ActiveX is stll no1 enemy of security period.

  3. Unknown - I hate to disappoint you but Google is not the most trustworthy company out there. They might have a different mindset than Microsoft, but they still collect vast amounts of data from its users. I have a GMail account so I guess I fall into that category, but to use their OS?...Chrome? Nope. Not going that router ever, if it works for you.....then congratulations, but for me? I guess I'm a dictator....in that I want COMPLETE CONTROL over my PC's hardware, AND SOFTWARE!.....something neither Microsoft nor Google, nor Apple give its users!

  4. Bhosdi walon ye bata dete clear lagnguage me ki kyun linux is more secure