Is Linux a net security risk?

Compiled by US industry, government, and academics, the June 1 paper, titled How to Eliminate the Ten Most Critical Internet Security Threats: The Experts' Consensus, names versions of Unix and Linux systems in nine out of a "top ten" list of security vulnerabilities for operating systems that engineers "need to eliminate".

Dean Stockwell, director of sales and support, Network Associates Asia-Pacific, dismissed SANS's report as "skewed".

"Virus peddlers target the most popular system," said Stockwell. These happen to be Unix or Linux in the enterprise space, he believes.

"Most hackers graduate from Unix and Linux platforms. They know them intimately. They don't try to exploit them," Stockwell said.

Fifteen per cent of Australian organisations use a Linux system somewhere in their network server infrastructure, according to Rolf Jester, regional director of market services, Gartner Asia-Pacific.

Moreover, Stockwell suggested that local "up and coming" IT administrators are being trained in Unix or Linux platforms.

Stockwell also observed an "anti-Microsoft camp growing in Australia. They're turning to more stable platforms," he said, declining to name alternative brands.

A spokesperson from Sydney IT consultancy startup Working Technology begged to differ. "Unix and Linux are the geek operating systems," the representative said. "Windows NT is supported by 90 to 100 per cent of developers worldwide."

So how does network security health rate in Australia?

"Security is not a high enough priority for IT networks here," Stockwell said. "We're concerned about Y2K and GST problems. Security is priority two or three. It needs to be number one."

Stockwell attributes the perceived negligence to corporate Australia's "lack of best practices" and increasingly "busy" IT departments.

"To apply a security patch to any software literally takes minutes," he said. "I've often had to do it myself."

His advice to ensure Australian businesses are safe from network attack via the net is to enforce a policy of mandatory systems testing, particularly for file servers and mail servers, and committing to regular upgrading.

Industry ignorance to IT security threats are dire to the economy, Stockwell warned.

He pointed to the fallout from the notorious I Love You virus as an expensive example of a country unprepared for a "simple" security attack "written by a student in a matter of days".

The Love Bug cost Australian business an estimated $1.5 billion in down-time over four days.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Helen Han

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?