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Linux: Look to your Laurels

Allan Dyer

While Microsoft users are waiting for XP2 to download, Linux users, administrators and developers should stop laughing and check that they are not falling behind in security. Probably in largest contributing factor to the poor level of security in Microsoft products was "user friendliness" - installing everything, and enabling everything, just in case it might be wanted later. Unfortunately, the developers of some Linux distributions are going the same route.

A recent incident illustrates this: a website in Hong Kong was defaced by hackers, but a little examination showed that the organisation's main website was not affected. Instead, the hackers had modified a webpage on a Linux mailgateway. Someone had done a default installation, and not removed the unnecessary services, leaving the system open to attack.

Systems are not secure because one operating system is magically superior to another. Security depends on the people involved in development, administration and using the systems being security-conscious, and always acting to improve security.