Security is, along with market share, one of the most relevant aspects of the face-off between Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. And although Microsoft's proprietary operating system wins by a landslide in terms of install base, while Linux and Mac OS X struggle to gather an audience, the two rival platforms have always boasted superior security. But while the number of users of a certain operating system can be easily approximated, not the same can be said about security. In fact, security is a multifaceted characteristic for which a variety of factors have to be taken into consideration, starting from the threat environment to the volume of vulnerabilities.
According to Microsoft, Windows, and more specifically, Windows Vista, is superior to Mac OS X and the main Linux distributions when it comes down to having less security flaws, courtesy of vulnerability "measuring contests" put together by Jeff Jones, Security Strategy Director in Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing group. But just the volume of holes in an operating system is not sufficient to assess the overall security level of the product.
Russian antivirus maker Kaspersky has come up with a statistics of the attacks targeting no less than 43 different platforms throughout 2007. The conclusion is rather bleak for Microsoft, Windows attracts in excess of 96% of all malware, while the remaining 42 operating systems are impacted by just under 4%.
“In 2007, Kaspersky Lab detected malicious programs, AdWare and potentially malicious programs for 43 different platforms and operating systems. Naturally, the overwhelming majority of existing malicious programs are executable binary files designed to run in a Win32 environment. Programs designed for other operating systems and platforms represent less than 4% of the total,” explained Alexander Gostev. Senior Virus Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.
According to Kaspersky, 99,66% of all malware detected in 2007 was designed to impact Windows. Just 0,254% targeted FreeBSD, Linux, Perl, PHP, Ruby, Unix and only an insignificant 0,015% attempted to infect Mac OS X. 0,027% of malicious code impacted Python and Symbian, while only 0,045 were set up for BeOS, Boot, Boot-DOS, MS-DOS, Multi, SAP, SQL, SunOS.
Microsoft, Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Apple, Security