Linux has a strong reputation for being the most secure operating system on the market. It’s been like that for many years, and it doesn’t seem like Windows or macOS are going to overtake it anytime soon. And while the operating system’s reputation is well-deserved, it can also harm the experienced users.
The problem is that some seem to put too much trust in the capabilities of Linux by default. As a result, they often don’t pay enough attention to the manual aspect of their security. Linux can help you automate your workflow to a large extent, but it still requires a manual touch to keep things going well. This is even truer when it comes to security.
You Need to Be More Vigilant
To expand on what we wrote above – you need to pay close attention to application settings and other similar details. A well-configured Linux system can be very difficult to crack. Unfortunately, many people don’t have a good enough understanding of what it takes to keep their systems locked down.
If you’re using any new application, pay attention to its configuration files. Don’t just run it with the example settings and call it a day. Some developers used to put “decoy” settings that would prevent their applications from running in the past. This was an excellent way to ensure that users have gone through the configuration file.
The Importance of Handling Permissions Right
Permissions are a big part of Linux. It’s important to understand how they work and their implications for different components of the operating system. If you’re coming from Windows, the general concept might be a bit new to you. Mac users should find the whole thing slightly more familiar, though they’ll also need some time to adjust.
The general rule of thumb is that you should never use a “root” account for daily tasks. This might be a surprise to some Windows users, where the OS handles critical permissions differently. Sure, it’s inconvenient to have to type in a password every time you want to execute something. But one day, it’s going to prevent an actual security problem with your computer.
Viruses Do Exist
Another thing that sometimes surprises newcomers to Linux is viruses. The OS has a reputation for being virus-free for some reason, even though the reality is very different. The difference between Linux and Windows in this regard is that Linux is less popular among desktop users. As a result, hackers don’t target it that often, and they don’t develop so many viruses for it.
But malware for Linux still exists, and it can even be more damaging than its Windows counterparts in some cases. This is even more so for users who don’t pay attention to permissions and other core security concepts in Linux, as described above.
Availability of Security Tools
You may also discover that your favorite security tools are not available for Linux. This is the general case with most antivirus solutions. It’s not feasible for antivirus developers to maintain two versions of the same application when the underlying systems are so different. There are exceptions, but even with them, you’ll find the applications working in a different way under Linux.
On the other hand, you may have easier access to a wide range of general-purpose security tools. There are even entire Linux distributions, like Kali, designed with security as their primary goal. If you’re an active VPN user, it should be possible to transfer your subscription from Windows to Linux without hassle. Sometimes, you may even be able to control your VPN connection in a more streamlined fashion. Linux has some great built-in tools that can make working with complex networking setups easier in general. Consider using a Linux VPN to keep your system more secure, at home and on your travels. You can also have a close look at more option about Linux VPN clients.
Open Source Is Not Always More Secure
Another misconception that many people still hold on to is that Linux is more secure just because it’s open source. It’s easy to see where this is coming from. When you have the entire system exposed to the world, you can assume that any issues will be noticed and taken care of. That’s not quite the case though. There have been various incidents of security holes and backdoors being discovered in Linux. In some cases, there were even signs that the holes were put there on purpose.
Having the entire system closed off and reviewed by a team of certified experts can have its benefits. One should not underestimate the security of Windows and its surrounding applications because of the closed-source nature of the platform.
Linux can be a fantastic operating system for those with more concerns about their security. However, it’s critical to study it in detail before committing to its long-term use. Otherwise, you might expose yourself to some serious security risks without even realizing it. In the hands of inexperienced beginners, a poorly configured Linux installation can be a recipe for disaster.