[MLB-WIRELESS] Virus risks on Linux?

Tony Langdon tlangdon at atctraining.com.au
Wed Oct 9 08:36:29 EST 2002

> A question to throw into the linux and open source user circle...
> Is linux as much at risk to virus' as Windows, etc?

I think the answer is "yes and no".  Linux is less susceptible to the
"scripting" type viruses and worms that plague Windows, because Linux
software tends not to have as much emphasis on automagically doing
everything when you open an email, whereas Windows (especially Microsoft)
software has a lot of automatic scripting capabilities, which viruses and
worms can tap into.  The Outlook preview pane is a classic example of this
in action.

Linux users also tend to run their end user apps as a non root user, so the
amount of damage a traditional virus can do is usually quite limited and not
system wide (unless the virus can exploit a local root hole on a system

However, Linux is quite susceptible to certain types of worm, as the Slapper
worm has proven in recent times, so we're not out of the woods by a long
> Is it worth installing some sort of linux antiviral software 
> and if so is there
> much around that is free?
> It seems F-Prot antivirus has a linux flavour and is free but 
> are there others?

Well, the current crop of antivirus software tends to be biased more towards
protecting Windows machines, and the value of a Linux version falls into two

1.  Protecting a Windows machines behind a Linux mail gateway.  With the
help of Amavis or MimeDefang, the antivirus package can be made to scan
every incoming message.

2.  Scanning Windows files on the local host.  Whether the machine is dual
boot, or acting as a Samba/FTP file server for one or more Windows boxes,
running a virus scanner can be quite handy.

For a pure Linux environment, there's no real need for a traditional virus
scanner.... yet.  That may change one day, if more virus writers target

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