Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dell says Ubuntu is safer than Windows

Dell says Ubuntu is safer than Windows

Linux has a powerful booster in the never-ending debate over what OS is safest from malware and spyware: Dell.

Stethoscope on laptop computer keyboard [1]

Dell's Ubuntu site has a "Top 10" list of "things you should know about Ubuntu [2]." No. 6?

Ubuntu is safer than Microsoft® Windows®

The vast majority of viruses and spyware written by hackers are not designed to target and attack Linux.

The VAR Guy [3] noticed the comment on Dell's site the other day (and created this PDF [4] of a screenshot in case Dell decides it doesn't want to tick off Microsoft and removes it).

I found this amusing in light of the news the other day that a large number of Linux systems had a trojan installed [5] that would grant someone access to your computer, no matter what kind of password or restrictions you had on your server.

And if you search the Secunia Advisory and Vulnerability Database, you find way more security advisories for "Linux [6]" (9963) than for "Windows [7]" (1692) — tighter searches, for "Linux kernel [8]" and "Microsoft Windows [9]" bring fewer advisories and weed out a lot of advisories that really aren't security issues, such as updates for plugins and applications, Linux still has more than Microsoft (819 to 687). Many of the advisories are relatively minor and there's some credence to the argument that there are more reported bugs on Linux because there are more eyes on the code [10]

I say "amusing" simply because if someone wants to do mischief, they can get into any system. Yes, Microsoft seems to face more serious attacks than Linux or other open-source operating systems or software, but a large part of that is scale. You can wreak much more havoc if you attack the system with the largest user base.

Apple fanboys have had to face a harsh reality, too, after years of mocking Microsoft users, viruses and malware [11] that target Macs have reared their ugly heads.

As folks from Symantec Security Response [12] recently told Jeff Bertolucci of our sister publication, PC World, the biggest risk any system faces is from its user. If you download games or screensavers or apps from an unknown source and don't do proper security scans and maintenance, you have a greater chance of running into problems.

Windows will face the largest risk of malicious attacks so long as it commands the largest market share. If Apple or Linux were to overtake it, that OS likely would take over the top spot.

Whatever the case, having a major computer-maker such as Dell touting the security of Linux is a coup and certainly gives those using the Ubuntu distro a certain degree of bragging rights.

I just wonder how soon before Microsoft has a little word with Dell and No. 6 is changed to something along the lines of, "Ubuntu is safe / The vast majority of viruses and spyware written by hackers are not designed to target and attack Linux."

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