An analysis of hacker attacks on online servers in January by security consultancy mi2g found that Linux servers were the most frequently violated, accounting for 13,654 successful attacks, or 80 per cent of the survey total. Windows ran a distant second with 2,005 attacks. A more specific analysis of government servers also found Linux more susceptible, accounting for 57 per cent of all breaches.
In a similar analysis last year, Windows proved far more vulnerable, with 51 per cent of successful attacks on government servers made on some version of the Microsoft operating system.
However, the rise in digital attacks probably reflects a lack of training and deployment expertise rather than inherent security problems in Linux, mi2g officials suggested.
"The swift adoption of Linux last year within the online government and non-government server community, coupled with inadequate training and knowledge on how to keep that environment secure when running vulnerable third party applications, has contributed to a consistently higher proportion of compromised Linux servers," mi2g executive chairman DK Matai said in a statement.
The mi2g study concentrated on "overt digital attacks" and didn't include more general forms of attack such as viruses and worms. Microsoft has been under fire for the past year for the lack of speed with which some patches to fix security holes exploited by these forms of malicious code have been made available and deployed.
While Linux advocates may not welcome the new data, it should prove good news for fans of BSD and Mac OS X. Those operating systems accounted for a tiny percentage of successful attacks, and no government servers running other OS were breached.