General Question

klaas4's avatar

Are there viruses for Linux?

Asked by klaas4 (2176points) October 12th, 2007

Mac’s don’t…

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

5 Answers

jdb's avatar

Unix-like operating systems such as Linux and OS X are generally less susceptible to viruses. A handful of “viruses” have been written for Linux, but every example I’ve seen relies on an insecure system (ubiquitous use of root user, etc.) This article explains why viruses are so rare for Linux.

zarnold's avatar

In short, any operating platform will and does have exploits (even cellphones).

While there are tons of linux/unix/mac exploits, most of these are negated by the need for root access to do real damage to a user’s system. In addition, virus programmers will tend to target the platform with the most targets (i.e. the most popular) such as Windows XP, vista, etc.

As a common unix convention, a user running a virus must have complete read/write access to the files to be deleted/messed up. Because most of the system files (in fact everything outside the user’s home folder, in linux) requires root access to be modified, the virus will likely have little success. In addition, linux users usually use alternatives to becoming a full-fledged root user such as “sudo” that limit the amount of commands that can be run as root withut explicit user permission (usually typing in the password at a prompt).

So basically, the lack of viruses for linux/unix stems from the face that the vast majority of viruses target windows systems, as well as the whole root user thing.

zarnold's avatar

lol beat me to it

Vincentt's avatar

If you’re saying Macs don’t then Linux doesn’t have any either. However, both do, they’re just so rare and so hard to spread for the reasons mentioned above that practically nobody ever encounters any. There are probably more virus-scanners for Linux than there are viruses ;-)

MedivhX's avatar

Linux has a very small amount of viruses (500–700), and 99% of them are harmless.

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