martes, 15 de junio de 2010

Linux users...BEWARE! Trojans Ahead!!

I've been discussing about using one's OS with a critical eye always fixed on it. Mostly, I've referred to Windows users who, thinking that their system is the best, let all kinds of threats compromise their security. Now it's turn to say the same about Linux users.

It is a fact that Linux is much less a target of viruses and malware, but that does not mean Linux is an impenetrable fortress. There are many Linux users out there who feel they own a totally invulnerable super-system and simply forget the First Commandment when going online:

"Thou Shalt not trust any site or any download easily "

As I said it before, many Linux users, with their chests full of pride and their heads empty of critical thinking, forget to take full charge of their beloved penguin's security, especially when they engage in risky Internet behaviors such as chatting or P2P downloading.

Simple logics dictates that any Internet interaction between 2 or more computers that involves sharing files may be risky enough. Still, cases of Linux users who, totally convinced that Linux security is unbeatable, leave simple root passwords and get their systems hijacked have occurred.

"But that is another PICNIC example. Clearly, those users were to blame, not Linux", some may say. That's true. However, it was confirmed that a new Linux Trojan going by a phony "Unreal IRC" identity has infected lots of Linux machines already. It appears someone replaced the actual "Unreal IRC" download with a powerful Trojan in the mirrors of that Internet Chat Relay platform.

What does the Trojan do? Apart from granting a stranger out there all access privileges and control of your computer, nothing much. Even the Unreal IRC Webmasters were baffled. They were so sure of Linux Security that they didn't even check periodically the integrity of the download at the mirrors. The news is here.

If you use Linux and like IRC, then you must make sure you install files from your official repositories. If Unreal IRC is not there, consider seriously not installing it from anywhere else. Fortunately, MEPIS does not offer it.

Again and again, any user must take an active role in his/her computer's protection. Remember Uncle Ben's wise words, also cited by my Console any time I attempt to fiddle with my system from the root:

"With great power comes great responsibility."

10 comentarios:

  1. Linux might be very virus-resistant, but ignorance can crack any protection.

    I insist: if driving a car implies a responsibility, so does using a computer.

  2. Cuadra,R.
    Linux had proven itself in many fronts as it became the standard, almost exclusively, for all servers due to its efficiency, speed, and reliability. However, Linux and all of its distributions, in my opinion, have received far too much recognition in the recent past in terms of security features and abilities, as opposed to Microsoft’s widespread operating systems: the Windows family. Microsoft’s Windows, on the other hand, has much more home users to this day; over ninety one percent of all personal computers and laptops sold today are still equipped with some version of it. On the contrary, Linux only accounts for slightly more than one percent of the market share; therefore, wouln’t be unfair to compare two things which, although created for the same purpose, have never really had the same amount of userbase? Therefore, I believe that as long as at least one Linux variant, let be it Mandriva, Redhat or Ubuntu, has not yet been tested side by side with MS Windows, I don’t see it one bit more secure than Microsoft’s operating system, despite all the hype it recieves from its developers and the few people who uses it; their numbers are still too low to draw a meaningful conclusion yet.

  3. Rebeca,

    Your cautious approach is commendable. However, how can there be equal conditions when Microsoft actively directs lots of money to fight and silence Linux? Is it fair that a gigantic company, with such a big slice of the market share, still boycotts other OS options? Why do you think they do it? They do not want users to test Linux and Windows side by side on equal grounds because they are afraid to lose; they are afraid that users discover they've been lied to all this time.

  4. Rebeca, you must take into account that quantity of users does not define security. If 3%, 20%, or 95% of people use seatbelts, the percentage has nothing to do with the security of the device. Usage speaks of preference, not about the qualities of the seatbelt.
    Virus are normally .exe files, Rebeca. Those files operate automatically under Windows. In Linux, an .exe file becomes a text script (like the one you would type with Windows notepad). For the virus to do something, it must be executed manually and, to do so, the user must have execution permissions in Linux. As you can see, the way Linux works as an OS is, by nature, MORE SECURE than any Windows counterpart. This is why Microsoft spends LOTS of money so that people do not hear about this and buy useless antivirus software. Can you argue that Windows is as secure as Linux is if Windows users only had the OS (no firewall, antivirus, etc)?

  5. Castro, V.

    It is true that Linux is an Open Source that offers security to the user, but as Tony Bradley says in his article Linux Trojan Raises Malware Concerns: “this operating system is not bulletproof.” I agree with the idea that Linux is more secure than Microsoft, but it can also be vulnerable and can be threaten by a Trojan. In others words, Linux and Microsoft, both as operating systems, have their weaknesses and strengths. However, I agree with what Megatotoro stated. The fault relies on the person who uses these operating systems and not in the operating systems by themselves. The person must know about Linux or Microsoft to know how to protect their computers against Trojans. Of course, due to the fact that Linux is safe, the Trojans would not cause the same level of damage in a computer that functions with Microsoft. It is a shame that people in general do not learn about different operating systems since they are in school. Most of the people do not have the opportunity to learn about them unless they are enrolled in the major of computer science or unless they become aware of the problem because someone magically opens their eyes (Thanks God someone opened my eyes a few months ago!) For this reason, people should re-educate themselves in the topics or issues related to computer science to have the right to choose the operating system that fulfills their own expectations.

  6. It's true, I have read on the internet the comments that Linux users post and most of them seem to feel that they don't have nothing to worry about. Most of them forget that, even though it's safer to have Linux thatn Windows, it is not a perfect system, and in most of the cases, the problems begin when the Linux users forget that they have to be careful when they use the internet. Some of them feel that they can do "whatever they want", but they have to take into account that if their systems fail, probably is because they were not cautios enough.

  7. Right, Emily. As Mechatotoro stated above, ignorance can crack any protection.

  8. A vault door left open is less secure than a screen door closed and its hasp attached. A linux box with weak passwords and poor/nonexistent firewall rules is indeed less secure than a Windows box with all ports closed, A/V, anti-spyware, all services turned off, and something like Tripwire installed and correctly configured.


    If you can trick a user into running 'rm -rf /' (DON'T DO THIS!!!!), what do you think is going to happen?

    However, when both machines are equally secured and you happily have a user with a good head on their shoulders, Linux is more secure than Windows.

  9. I really like your analogies, FelixTheCat, and couldn't possibly agree more!

    Also, I second your warning:

    DO NOT DO THE 'rm -rf /' TRICK!!!!

    (For newbies newer than me, it will wipe clean all your hard drive. Yes, your precious penguin will become a hazy memory in your head. You've been warned.)