Linux is not completely impenetrable. In point of fact, this is one of the most widespread misconceptions about computer security that can get Linux users in hot water. This misconception makes it simple for you to let your guard down, and while your guard is down, you increase the likelihood of receiving a surprise attack.
However, the fact that Linux contains security flaws does not necessarily mean that you require an antivirus or firewall program. The following are a few reasons why installing one may not be as useful as you believe it will be, despite the fact that you may opt to do it nonetheless, which is perfectly acceptable.
Reasons Why Linux Doesn’t Require a Virus Scanner
Let’s have a look at the possibilities that make it unnecessary to use antivirus software on Linux.
1. Malware affecting Linux Desktops Is Extremely Uncommon
Linux is the desktop operating system that has the least amount of users, and those users tend to be fairly knowledgeable about technology. As a result, other operating systems have security flaws that are easier to exploit, and it is just not as profitable to target Linux.
Of course, Linux malware does exist. To assert anything to the contrary would be both foolish and dishonest. On the other hand, it just isn’t as big of a problem as it is on other operating systems, and there’s basically no chance that you’ll run into one (unless you’re watching improper information or torrenting from questionable websites).
2. The Installation of Software on Linux Is Done in a More Secure Manner
Consider the process by which you add new software to your computer. Installer files such as EXE, MSI, and DMG are frequently downloaded by users on Windows and Mac operating systems. These files require access to the system level in order to make the necessary changes during installation. That is a highly popular entry point for malicious software. You only need one slip-up or one trick to be completely undone.
But Linux is different. The majority of users rely primarily on package managers such as APT and YUM, yet installer files do exist despite their unorthodox nature. If you stick to reliable repositories, there is almost no chance that you will become infected with malicious software. When you start messing around with obscure PPAs and other similar things, the risk increases significantly.
3. Linux Is Its Own Line of Defense Against Malware
Because of the core structure of Linux, it is difficult for malicious software to gain root access. Even if you do wind up becoming infected with a virus or Trojan, it will be impossible for it to cause any significant damage to the system. This is because of the way that permissions are handled in Linux.
Every file in Linux can be assigned to one of these three permissions:
- What options does the owner of this file have for using it?
- What options does the group that owns this file have for using it?
- And what options do the other people have with this file?
If a virus were to hypothetically infect your machine, it is most likely that the virus would be executed under your local account. As a result, the infection’s scope would be restricted to the activities of your user account. If you don’t unintentionally run the malicious program using “sudo,” it won’t be possible for local user accounts to make any changes to “root” files at the system level, which means the malware will be unable to spread and will be contained.
4. Antivirus Effectiveness Is Questionable
Let’s say that one day a new piece of malware is released that specifically targets Linux computers. It does this by utilizing a security flaw that has never been observed before, and then it installs itself on your PC. Your data will be corrupted by the malware before you are even aware of what is happening, and you will be left wondering what you might have done differently to avoid the problem.
Would having antivirus software aided you in this situation? Almost certainly not.
Antivirus programs are, in general, always one step behind the viruses they are meant to protect against. Antivirus software makers are, by definition, considered to be reactive because their product cannot defend you from dangers it is not aware exist in the world. There is a good chance that you will be infected by the malicious software before the antivirus program figures out how to eliminate it.
And did you know that the majority of antivirus programs for Linux focus their attention on Windows malware? Some of them are able to detect Linux infections, but their primary function is to clear files that include Windows infections. This is done to prevent you from spreading malware to your other computers or to the machines of your friends and family when you share files.
5. Good security practices are usually sufficient while using Linux.
On Linux, some of the most well-known entry points for malicious software are software downloaded from untrusted sources, torrents, dubious websites, and more. These are some rather fundamental causes that can be readily avoided by following recommended procedures.
However, those aren’t the only options available. PDF files, outdated extensions and plugins, cross-platform applications that are rarely updated, and a variety of other types of files are all potential vectors for infection. It’s also possible for viruses to be hidden on USB drives.
All of this is to argue that there isn’t much to gain from antivirus software if you get rid of potential attack vectors, stay away from sketchy portions of the internet, stay away from stray USB drives, abandon bad security habits and acquire good security habits.
Why a Firewall Isn’t Necessary When Using Linux
Don’t be concerned. This response is considerably more succinct.
A firewall is merely a filter that decides which network packets (i.e., data) can enter your computer from the internet and which network packets can exit your computer to the internet. This filter is used to keep your computer secure. It’s mostly used to enable and/or disallow inbound connections. It is uncommon for outgoing connections to be filtered.
Firewalls aren’t necessary for the vast majority of Linux desktop users.
The sole circumstance in which you would require a firewall is if you were operating a server application of some kind on your computer. This could be a web server, an email server, a game server, or any number of other types of servers. In this scenario, a firewall will limit incoming connections to only those ports that are necessary to ensure that only the appropriate server application may be accessed by those connections.
If you are not operating any server applications, a firewall is not necessary for your network security. If your system has no functioning servers, it is not actively waiting for incoming connections; if it is not actively listening for incoming connections, then nobody will be able to connect to it.
The vast majority of Linux desktops are pre-configured to run zero server programs. To reiterate, turning on and using a firewall on your Linux computer is not going to cause you any harm. It is not something we would advise against doing. On Linux, we are merely stating that it is possible to function normally without using an antivirus program or a firewall.
Advice on How to Get the Most Out of Linux’s Security
Despite all of these arguments against installing antivirus software, you could still be interested in doing so, and that’s perfectly acceptable. If you have antivirus software handy, you won’t be missing out on anything even if you never detect even a single piece of malware on your system. It’s always better to err on the side of caution, right? After all, Linux isn’t nearly as secure as many people believe it to be.
On Linux, just like with any other type of software, there are a number of different antivirus programs that you can download and try out for no cost.
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