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Windows 7: Are Unix systems more secure than Windows systems?


30 Sep 2009   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 
Are Unix systems more secure than Windows systems?

Lately, I've heard some people say that the Unix code is more secure than the Windows code and that the Windows code has many holes and bugs in it. Before, I always thought Unix systems (for example, Mac) were less likely to get infected by viruses only because they had a lower market share. However, I'm starting to wonder if the Unix code is really more secure than the Windows code. Is this true? Also, does the Windows code really have that many bugs and holes in it?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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30 Sep 2009   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate, OS X 10.7, Ubuntu 11.04
 
 

It is rather debatable, its harder to compare two completely different codes and say one is flawed and one is not.

Though Unix/Linux does appear to be a bit more secure, which is why Apple's OS X (their baby), is based on a unix-code.
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30 Sep 2009   #3

Windows 8.1 Pro (x64)
 
 

Security is only as strong as the one managing the system. Viruses and other malware could just as easily exist for Unix/Linux. In fact some of the very first viruses/malware was for Unix. The difference is market size and the people behind the computers are what mostly contribute to malware infections. Rarely does malware infect a computer via an OS exploit today. Most infections are from willing users and unpatched applications.

All software has bugs, regardless of who is writing it. Without extensive testing bugs will get though. However, it is impossible to think of every possible situation your code might get used. Some would say open source code is less prone to this, but that is not true. Even with a large contributing community behind the project, not all bugs can be found via scanning the source code. Even valid written code could produce a bug. Even then a bug might appear to work correctly for one user, but not another is it then defined as a bug?

To say one operating is more secure then another is impossible to say without extensive testing. Unfortunate, testing that Windows goes thought almost every day by hackers probing its insides. Unix and the other *nixes don't get that kind of daily abuse.

There are other security aspects to talk about as well, malware is just a small piece of the pie.

* A software bug is defined as unexpected behavior.
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30 Sep 2009   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Generally speaking, all of the Unix/Linux variants were built from the ground up as a multi-user operating system, thus security was always important. Systems like Windows started where the user was an Admin and had full control over the box.

Generally speaking, the 'nix' variants are usually more secure as they are properly setup to run with user accounts that are extremely limited in terms of where they can get to and what they can do. Compared to Windows, people unfortunately usually set up everything and run as the box admin and this allows unfettered access to many other components and hence the reason that so many exploits exist and the reason why the exploit does so much damage.
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01 Oct 2009   #5

Windows 7
 
 

Linux is open source - so there are more eyeballs looking at the code.

This is especially true of core (kernel) functionality - therefore there are fewer bugs, therefore there are fewer security holes.
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01 Oct 2009   #6

Windows 8.1 Pro x64 x3 + Windows 10 Preview, Ubuntu
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by w7explorer View Post
Linux is open source - so there are more eyeballs looking at the code.

This is especially true of core (kernel) functionality - therefore there are fewer bugs, therefore there are fewer security holes.
While I generally accept this statement - we have to remember that the eyes looking at the code are not all doing so with the intent of "Improving" the security.

Basically as stated above the two operating systems are probably approaching equality in this, but the gulf between the security knowledge of those administering the system is still strongly biased in Nix's favour.

If 'nix systems were used in the numbers and by the same users as windows I believe that the security situation would be similar
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Oct 2009   #7

Windows 8.1 Pro (x64)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by w7explorer View Post
Linux is open source - so there are more eyeballs looking at the code.

This is especially true of core (kernel) functionality - therefore there are fewer bugs, therefore there are fewer security holes.
Just looking at code is not enough to clear away bugs. Perfectly valid code can still introduce bugs. The more eyes you have do not equal less buggy code. Only though testing are these bugs revealed, well most of them. Since every single computer is unique with a million different variables that could infect the code in some way to produce a rather obscure bug. Finding such a bug would not be possible just by looking at the code.

Open Source is not a fix to software bugs. There is also no proof that Open Source (large/popular projects) has less bugs then Proprietary Source. Just to point out, I get almost well over 200 patches almost every month for the latest version of Ubuntu. So fewer bugs? I think not.
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01 Oct 2009   #8

64-bit Windows 8.1 Pro
 
 

The discussion was security, not whether or not there are more bugs in linux vs microsoft. There are currently few or no viruses/trojans in the wild for ubuntu... Those that do exist are proof of concept and are not really of concern for Linux users... Linux is more secure IMO because of its modularity, and to a certain part, its obscurity in the desktop market. Though my linux box is fairly tied down, I still use an A/V ... call it habit... Microsoft has made tremendous strides in improving its security, begining with UAC and other measures.... so the field is not as lopsided as it once was...

All that being said, I left Linux as my main OS for Windows 7..
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01 Oct 2009   #9

Windows 8.1 Pro (x64)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Tews View Post
The discussion was security, not whether or not there are more bugs in linux vs microsoft...
Bugs are what cause security holes, I use the term to cover unexpected behavior which also includes security holes. Virues/Malware are only one part of a much larger pie, concerning security. Malware is nothing more then an application, itself rarely comprises security on its own, most require aid from the user.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Oct 2009   #10

64-bit Windows 8.1 Pro
 
 

Your expectation of a bug free operating system is irrational because there will always be bugs ... period ... Your statement re: bugs are what causes security holes.. should be at best.. bugs can cause security holes ... If your position that linux is not any more secure then other operating systems, I would remind you that in the 2008 CanSecWest Security Conference, the Ubuntu box went the distance without being compromised... bugs and all ....

source
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 Are Unix systems more secure than Windows systems?




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