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The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox-tech mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

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Re: [vox-tech] linux and viruses
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Re: [vox-tech] linux and viruses





---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: Cylar Z <cylarz@yahoo.com>
Reply-To: "lugod's technical discussion forum" <vox-tech@lists.lugod.org>
Date:  Thu, 23 Feb 2006 18:31:56 -0800 (PST)

>Hi,
>
>Hope this isn't too inappropriate for this list...feel
>free to chastise me if it is.

This post generated a lot of good thoughts and discussion.
However, maybe it would be a better post to vox.

>
>Here's the skinny. I'm trying to get my systems
>administrator (at work) to let me connect a laptop to
>his network so that I can surf the web at lunchtime.
>Now, the sysadmin is strictly a Microsoft man and
>knows nothing at all about Linux.

I agree with Pete and others who observed that the
sysadmin is wearing "professional blinders". And
sharing to him what's been posted will probably
only raise his blood pressure. (Be gentle.)

 He has balked at my
>request because while he is worried that I might
>inadvertently bring viruses/spyware/malware onto his
>network.

We need to get to the core of why this can't happen, assuming
you're not running linux as user "root".

Linux (*nix) has two distinct modes: user and privileged.
On the other hand, Windows has only one mode: privileged.

When you're running any browser in Windows, any browser
vulnerability will enable a malicious web site to plant
executables that can either do damage to your computer
and do damage to other Windows computers on the network.

When you're running any browser in Linux, any browser
vulnerability can only plant executables that do damage
to your home environment. This is because you're running
the browser in user mode, not privileged.

There are other arguments as well. But this is the core.

 It turns out that he was not even aware that
>Linux can speak TCP/IP and supports DHCP client
>networking functions.
>
>I tried telling him that my laptop will be running
>some flavor of Linux (most likely Fedora Core 4) and
>that Linux is virtually impervious to viruses. It
>hasn't swayed him. 
>
>I guess my question to you all is this: Did I make a
>true statement? Is Linux really virus-proof?

Yes! (Assuming, again, you're not running as root.)
A virus is a program that embeds into another program,
so that when the other program runs, bad things happen.
Since Linux (*nix) has all its system programs protected
as privileged, viruses cannot embed.

 If so, is
>it just because of its relatively small share of the
>OS market, or is there a more technical reason for
>this? If so, what? If I told him one, it might get
>through to him.
>
>And what about malware? Is Linux resistant to that as
>well?

Yes, because malware is just another name for virus
or worms. Perhaps your sysadm's career would be improved if
he knew that Linux were impervious to worms. For the same
reason that viruses cannot embed to existing programs,
code that replicates itself until it fills up the disk
drive cannot embed to existing programs.

>
>Think of this as an opportunity to further infiltrate
>Microsoft's domain. Help me explain to my admin why
>attaching a Linux client won't hurt his network.
>
>Thanks, Matt
>
>
>
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