As a Linux OS user I find myself worrying about whether or not the rash of Android phone malware infections means my desktop will soon be at greater risk as well. After all, one of the selling points of Linux is the security it affords, with few viruses on record. Even if a user does download a virus, limited Root User privileges helps to limit the propagation of the virus to other Linux users. This is part of why most of us Linux users don’t bother to worry about Anti-virus programs at all. In fact, some people even make fun of those of us that have AV, even though it’s a fairly responsible thing to do if you ever mail or forward email to people who are on Windows.
There is reason to feel secure, even if Android phones (which utilize the Linux base) are being infected. Phones have different information on them that is tempting to cyber-villians and greater access to spread malware than computers. Simply because my phone has different vulnerabilities than my PC and people are far more likely to give root user access to every app they download puts people at greater risk of giving and getting malware. My PC, however, isn’t as immediately tempting to people creating malware and not allowing Root User access to everything means it can’t do anything without me giving it permission.
On the other hand, the fact that ambitious people are experimenting with the Android OS does lead me down the path of pessimism. While the news organizations and bigger Operating System developers are saying Linux is still less than 1% of Operating Systems in use actually helps keep Linux users safe, Andoid and Google pushing their OS will probably bring people around to wanting to play with their malware creation skills. The Android phones being hacked and infected will only serve to give them confidence. While the risk may see low at the moment still, in the not so distant future the story may change.
While I’ve written other articles about protecting your smartphones, this article is concerned about the future problems that may come to Linux OSs and how to protect ourselves. The advent of people screwing with the OS, even if it is a phone OS, is a great time to start protecting ourselves. By calling for companies to make anti-viruses to help protect Linux OSs before the problem prevents itself may be the most responsible thing to do at the moment.
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