Security and Linux Adoption

Here are a couple articles beating the old OS advocate drum. The first suggests changing to a non-MS operating system is more secure. The second notes OEMs are again selling Linux-based boxes.

Want Security? Blah Blah Blah…:

“It is worth noting that almost all of the malware I find in my day to day work will only run on Windows computers.”

The problem with that is that the alternative operating systems recommended in the article comprise about 7% of all computers and Windows has the rest of the market share. OS-specific threats target the one with the most users, not with something that’s very marginally used. Why do people rob banks? That’s where the money is. Why do people target Windows computers? Because that’s where the users are. Any cybercrook who goes hungry from targeting the 1% of users running Linux desktops (some of whom run as root and are in the same vulnerable boat as Windows 95 and earlier users) or the even smaller group of hardcore Amiga users deserves to go hungry because he’s too stupid to figure out the difference between 1%, a fraction of 1%, and 90%. Duh.

What the article doesn’t address is the rise of phishing scams, of cross-scripting vulnerabilities that can plague users of multiple operating systems simultaneously, and the proliferation of tools that allow anyone to capture plain text on open networks — wireless and otherwise — and capture passwords, etc. The fact remains that Windows can be kept as safe as any other system, and users of any system are always the weakest links in security. It’s time for authors to admit that and stop the misleading (but too convenient) anti-Windows crap in making specious points.

There’s also an irony lost on those who make such recommendations. The more people adopt those other operating systems, the more convenient targets they’ll become — at least to the criminal class. I’m not convinced it’ll matter to anyone whose cause in life is to whine about Microsoft with every other sentence.

Speaking of which, this next article is a lot more optimistic than the one I linked last week (though it mentions it) that suggests desktop adoption of Linux has plateaued. I’ll only quote from the contrarian in the article.

Linux Finds Home On More Desktops:

…Stephen Baker, an analyst at NPD Group, says Linux on PCs looks to be little more than a niche product. “It doesn’t have the distribution power that Windows or even (Apple’s AAPL) Mac has,” Baker said. “It has kind of the feel of being a little chaotic, a little different than the standard PC segment.”

This is the second go-round for the OEMs. Problem with the assertion about spec’ing machines for Linux versus Vista: there’s no significant difference in the specs offered between models. That’s because most distros have similar requirements to Vista, just as requirements for newer versions of every operating system increase.

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