Linux is considered to be a safer operating system than Windows. But does it need any antivirus software? And if it’s really safer than Windows – why? What makes it safer? Find out here!
What Is An Antivirus?
Antivirus software is designed to stop viruses from infecting your computer. There are many types of antivirus software available today. Some are more effective than others. Each type of antivirus program works differently, and each has its pros and cons.
Antivirus programs work by looking for specific patterns in files, or signatures, that identify malicious software. These signatures are based on previous infections. A signature-based antivirus program would need to know what an infection looked like before it could recognize it.
Heuristics is a technique used by antivirus software to identify and stop malware without having to know what malware exactly looks like.
This method relies on detecting behaviors that indicate maliciousness. Heuristics is used to detect viruses that haven’t been seen before.
Does Linux Need Antivirus?
Usually, no. Linux is an open-source operating system that is extremely safe and reliable. It doesn’t get many viruses because there aren’t as many viruses targeting Linux as there are for other operating systems.
There are still some viruses out there, but the chances of you being infected by one are very slim. Linux has many updates every year to make sure that it stays safe and up-to-date.
Linux (see also ‘How To Rename A Directory In Linux‘) is also an operating system used mostly by advanced users. This means that the majority of people using Linux (see also ‘How To Update Kali Linux‘) in the first place are likely to be less susceptible to many typical viruses, as they may well have the technical know-how to deal with them better.
Of course, this is far from a guarantee – especially as Linux is being used more and more by less experienced users, as it becomes easier to use.
What Linux Antivirus Software Exists?
There are many Linux antivirus apps out there that are suitable to your needs. Below we’ve listed the best 3 antivirus apps for Linux (see also our article on Pi-Hole).
ClamAV is a leading open-source virus scanner. It is an antivirus that detects viruses, malware, Trojans and other threats. It is also available for free, which makes it one of the best antivirus software for Linux.
As we said, ClamAV is an open source, which means its virus directory is continually being updated by users around the world.
This kind of collaborative community effort is one of the reasons ClamAV is included in almost every distros software repo.
Comodo is a powerful cross-platform antivirus software that uses behavior-based analysis to protect your device. It’s also free, so you have nothing to lose.
With proactive protection, Comodo antivirus will defeat any known threats. The software features real-time, on-access and on-demand virus scanning, full event log, schedule scans and more.
Chkrootkit scans rootkits. A rootkit is a collection of malicious programs designed to compromise the root user account. Chkrootkit is commonly used by system administrators for malware detection or malware scan.
Chkrootkit looks at the list of processes running with a common utility-like command. During that same time, it asks the kernel for the same information. If any differences exist, it marks them as suspect.
Why Is Linux Deemed Safer?
Linux computers are less likely to be infected by viruses or malware than other operating systems. There are several reasons why this happens.
First, Linux uses less proprietary software that could be exploited by hackers. Linux is open source, and the Linux community tends to prefer to use open-source software with it too.
Open-source programs can have their code inspected, and malicious code can be detected before it even runs. This, of course, only works if someone actually looks at the code, of course!
Linux (see also ‘Can Linux Read NTFS?‘) isn’t as popular as Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS X. There are simply much fewer people using it – which means that it can be a lot less worth the time of many malware creators to target Linux.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that there’s no value in it at all!
For a start, most of the world’s computer servers run Linux – so even though there are far more users who have computers running either Windows or Mac OS than Linux, there are still a lot of extremely valuable targets running Linux.
A Linux operating system has a permission-based structure. Regular users can’t perform administrative tasks because every program needs authorization by the superuser (root).
This is a barrier that prevents viruses from sneaking into the system and making disastrous changes. You need to be a superuser to install new programs on Linux (see also ‘How To Use Aircrack Kali‘). It is harder to use malware on Linux because it needs root access to install or run programs.
There are many applications available for installation in the official repositories. This means that you can be more sure that the applications you install are safe. Viruses are more likely to be found in downloaded executables than in the official repositories, but this is still rare.
Windows OSes are often more vulnerable than Linux or Mac OS X because hackers can sometimes more easily get root access to them.
Hackers use exploits to gain root access to these machines. Linux and Mac OS X arguably have better security policies since only a few people have access to the root account.
How To Keep Your Linux System Safe
Although Linux is still considered one of the safest operating systems, users should be careful about running malicious scripts on the system.
Users are advised to get trusted software from authorized repositories. If you are running Windows cross-platform, make sure to get updated antivirus software, and use a strong login password.
Always keep your Linux distro up-to-date. You must update your software frequently. Do this by installing updates automatically or manually. Newer versions of software often close security holes, and also include bug fixes and new features.
Use a Linux firewall to monitor internet traffic. Install an antivirus solution to protect against viruses. Keep your Linux distribution patched. Share root privileges with as few people as necessary. Restrict user groups’ access to only certain system services and files.
Passwords should be long enough to prevent easy guessing by hackers. Regular backups are necessary for security reasons. Users should know about the dangers of malware and how to protect themselves from them.
Users should be careful about what they do online. Don’t share personal information or passwords. Don’t use an email address you don’t control and be careful when selecting your Autoresponder software when using email for business purposes (e.g. Flodesk vs Mailchimp)
Don’t click on links in emails, even if they seem legitimate. Hackers may be using graphics to make it appear as though your account was hacked when it wasn’t. Don’t open any messages from unknown senders.
Using a password manager is the easiest way to stay safe online. LastPass is a popular choice. There are plenty of other options too, but these are the most popular.
As we’ve seen before, if you use the same password everywhere, then your data is going to be vulnerable. So, it’s important to change your passwords regularly.
This means that you need to make sure that you’re using strong passwords. A password manager will help you do this. You can choose from many options, but most people end up choosing LastPass because it’s very easy to use, and it works well.
Linux is an operating system that does not usually need any additional security software. However, users must always take steps to protect themselves – after all, no operating system will ever be invulnerable to attacks.
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