Friday, 3 April 2009

Viruses R Us

A lot of traffic went past this week in the media concerning the Conficker computer virus. The virus, or trojan, or warm, is/was supposedly able to take control over your PC and make it do things you don't want it to do. The bottom line is you don't want Conficker to attack you.
The thing that the media, or at least most of it, had forgot to mention is that this Conficker thing is only a danger for Microsoft Windows users. For the record, my finger is pointed mainly towards the mass media, where most of the public were likely to hear about Conficker in the first place. As it is, users of the Mac and Linux operating systems have nothing to worry about, yet the media has failed to acknowledge that fact.
Now, you may reply to my complaint by saying Windows users represent the vasy majority of PC users. You'd be right: Surveys indicate Linux is being used on about half a percent of PC users while Apple's operating systems are running on around 5% of PCs (I'll leave it up to you to determine whether 5% is negligable or not).
My problem, however, is not with the media's avoidance of telling things the way they are to a minority of the public. My problem is with the media failing to tell the majority of the public how they can rid themselves of the threat of computer viruses altogether. The cure is there; it's just that the people are too ignorant to recognize it, and it's the media that is cooperating and doing its role to ensure the public remains dumb.
Is Microsoft that scary, even for the mass media?


Uri said...

Ah. So if everyone was using Linux there'd be no viruses?

Moshe Reuveni said...

I'm not saying that. What I am saying is that no one using Linux has ever had viruses.
As for your point, you do have to admit that viruses would have a much harder life with Linux. Macs, which are not as robust as Linux is (security wise), do not have a viruses but unlike Linux they have a user base worthy of an attack (at least from the point of view of the virus creators).

Moshe Reuveni said...

If you want to, we can get into a discussion as to why viruses will have a hard time with Linux. I discussed it in a previous post, but for now I will say this:
Because Linux is open sourced, any vulnerabilities that expose it to a virus will be exposed and dealt with immediately. Microsoft does not work that way.