Viruses

In the right hands, Linux is every bit as vulnerable to viruses as Windows is. That might come as a surprise to you, particularly if you made the switch to Linux on the basis of its security record. However, the difference between Windows and Linux is that it is much easier to secure against viruses on Linux. Indeed, as long as you are smart, you need never worry about them. Here is why:

• Linux never puts the current directory in your executable path, so typing ls runs /bin/ls rather than any ls in the current directory.

• A non-root user is only ever able to infect files he has write access to, which is usually only the files in his home directory. This is one of the most important reasons for never using sudo when you don't need to!

• Linux forces you to mark files as executable, so you can't accidentally run a file called myfile.txt.exe, thinking it was just a text file.

• By having more than one common web browser and email client, Linux has strength through diversity: Virus writers cannot target one platform and hit 90% of the users.

Despite saying all that, Linux is susceptible to being a carrier for viruses. If you run a mail server, your Linux box can send virus-infected mails on to Windows boxes. The Linux-based server would be fine, but the Windows client would be taken down by the virus.

In this situation, you should consider a virus scanner for your machine. You have several to choose from, both free and commercial. The most popular free suite is Clam AV (http://www.clamav.net), but Central Command, BitDefender, F-Secure, Kaspersky, McAfee, and others all compete to provide commercial solutionslook around for the best deal before you commit.

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