Linux keeps dodging hackers and viruses

Survey: Fewer than one in four Linux developers say they have been hacked and even fewer have been infected by viruses

A survey of 500 Linux developers carried out by Evans Data, a research company, and published last week, found that 78 percent of them claimed never to have been hacked.

Of the 22 percent that had fallen victim to hacking, nearly a quarter said they had been attacked by internal users with valid login IDs. By comparison, earlier this year Evans Data surveyed a group of non-Linux users and found that a significantly higher proportion -- three in five -- of those had suffered a security breach.

In the latest survey, Evans Data also looked at virus infection rates; over 90 percent of those surveyed said they had never been infected with a virus.

Although the threat from viruses does exist for Linux users -- Bliss, the first Linux virus, was written back in 1997 -- most of the viruses sweeping the Web at present are written to take advantage of flaws in Microsoft software, because the sheer number of Windows systems gives any one virus a much greater chance of spreading.

"The reasons for the greater inherent security of the Linux OS are simple: more eyes on the code means that less slips by and the OS is naturally going to be better secured," said Nicholas Petreley, Evans Data's Linux analyst, in a statement.

"As also found in Evans' recently released Security Development Survey, the mechanism by which a Linux machine can be compromised is by users inadequately configuring security settings. Ironically, the other flaws that crackers use to compromise Linux servers are flaws in applications that run on competing operating systems, so those vulnerabilities are not specific to Linux," Petreley added.

Evans Data also found that just over three-quarters of those surveyed don't believe that SCO's legal action will affect their company's take-up of Linux.

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