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Hardening the Linux desktop

An introduction to GNU/Linux desktop security

Jeffrey Orloff, Director of IT/Security, SafeWave, LLC
Jeffrey Orloff serves as the Director of IT and Security for SafeWave, LLC. He also works as the technology coordinator for the School District of Palm Beach County's Department of Alternative Education/DJJ.

Summary:  Although GNU/Linux® has the reputation of being a much more secure operating system than Windows,® you still need to secure the Linux desktop. This article steps you through installing antivirus software, creating a backup and restore plan, and using a firewall so you can harden your Linux desktop against most attacks and prevent unauthorized access to your computer.

Date:  05 Feb 2014 (Published 12 Dec 2008)
Level:  Introductory PDF:  A4 and Letter (217 KB | 10 pages)Get Adobe® Reader®

Activity:  62664 views
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Introduction

Malicious attacks against computers are on the rise. Although fewer viruses have been written to attack GNU/Linux systems than Windows systems, GNU/Linux viruses do exist. Furthermore, the amount of other types of malware that can infect a computer running Linux — as well as the sheer number of attacks — are growing. Recently Wirenet.1 attacked computers running Linux and Mac OS X. The malware stole passwords and other information stored in the computer's Internet browser, email client, and instant messaging tool.

How myths about security grow

When mischief was the focus for malicious hackers, Windows systems were the primary target because they were easy to use and many novice users bought them. Some attacks were motivated by the desire to bring negative publicity to Microsoft, which was perceived as not supporting the open source community. These attacks fostered myths in computing circles that Windows security was weak.

Platform-independent environments such as OpenOffice.org, Perl, and Mozilla Firefox are not exempt. For example, Dropper.MsPMs, a malicious Java archive (JAR) file, was found on machines running Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Some malware packages are written specifically for GNU/Linux. A rootkit— a collection of tools that let an attacker gain access to the root (administrator) account on your computer — are part of the same software family as Trojan horses. These malware packages go by different names such as tOrn and ARK.

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