After having travelled through the virus infested land of Windows, new Linux converts often have queries about viruses on their Linux systems. Here I will demystify all those queries related to Viruses, Antivirus software’s etc once & for all.
Which Antivirus software should I install under my Linux system? / Does Linux really doesn’t needs an Antivirus software?
Many veteran Linux users often get pissed off at novices asking this very question. But don’t worry let me answer this question for you if you have been bullied on forums by those veterans. I would like to say, “Linux really doesn’t needs antivirus software”. Yes that’s right. No antivirus is needed to be installed under a Linux system. The reason behind this is there are far more less viruses written for Linux than for Windows. The virus writers in search of fame often target Windows systems which is the reason behind the low number of viruses written for Linux. If I would to say the ratio is 1:10(Linux: Windows). Out of this, the real-time viruses i.e. the viruses which are currently active are very few. While Linux is gaining popularity day by day, but still the need to implement antivirus software in your Linux system is totally unwarranted as of now.
After people get satisfied with the above answer, they ask “Will the Windows viruses cause any havoc on my Linux system?”
Here again the answer is No. Viruses are nothing but programs which are designed to cause damage or affect the normal functioning of a system or its software’s. A virus written for Windows will not work under Linux system simply because they are two different OS’s which work totally differently ways, have different security structure & perform every task in their own unique way. For e.g most of the windows viruses like to infect the system folders like System 32, Windows etc but these folders are not present in a Linux file system. The virus will try its best to infect but it will fail due to unavailability of favourable conditions under Linux system. So you can be assured no windows virus, malware or spyware can infect your linux box. Also the viruses are not so smart that they can run on any platform like windows or linux. Hybrid viruses are still not available, so you need not to worry about them.
Does this means my Linux system is completely safe & sound from viruses?
Viruses are designed by their writers to exploit a particular vulnerability in the operating system. Every operating system has its fair share of vulnerabilities which also includes Linux. But since the source code is publically available, fixing vulnerability under Linux & other open source software is fairly easy & fast. Thanks to the software programmers who are constantly monitoring the OS, software’s & even the Linux kernel. This means even if a virus outbreaks under Linux, it will be diffused sooner as the independent programmers can themselves work out on a patch without waiting for instructions from official distro patch team.
Still I feel unsafe. What should I do?
Paranoids will be paranoids! For those out there, you can install a copy of Clam antivirus which is a free & open source antivirus designed to protect you from Linux viruses. Even Avast! Linux Home Edition is another free antivirus package for your Linux systems. If you’re willing to go paid (You should not as per my opinion) then you can find commercial antivirus in form of Panda Antivirus & Kaspersky Antivirus for Linux workstations.