Monday, June 21, 2010

Anti-virus revisited...

I remember writing a short post (read here) about why Ubuntu users don't need an anti-virus. However, over the past few months, my opinion on this has changed.

For starters, linux (unix in general) is more secure by design unless you are the village idiot who insist on logging into your Ubuntu setup as root (you actually need to hack this as Ubuntu by default prevents users from logging is as the root user). What few viruses/worms that do exist can only affect the user as per his/her access rights to the system.

However (I did say I've changed my opinion on this), Ubuntu users do receive a lot of files from other users who (gasp!) use Windoze (and Macs) and these platforms do have viruses/worms. What we do not want to be is a carrier for those malware. So installing an anti-virus should be done only for the occasional health scan and to maybe scan new files as you get them.

I have Googled around for a decent, free, linux based anti-virus and have found the following:

  1. ClamAV (URL or check with Synaptics
  2. avast! (URL
  3. AVG (URL
  4. F-Prot (URL
I ended up using AVG for myself since it was a CLI only installer (yes, no GUI) and didn't require me to register to use it (as you can see, I only tested one product). In any case, if you want to give it a try, these are the free ones I could find. Feel free to let me know what you think of this post or the product if you tried them.

You can also check the Ubuntu page on anti-viruses here.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting note...

    A day after I posted this article, I read that the Australian government wants to make it compulsory for all computers connected to the internet (from Australia) to have an anti-virus and firewall (I assume here they meant personal firewall). The government also wants it's internet providers to disconnect users until they have the two software installed.

    For Ubuntu users in Australia, you already have a personal firewall in your Ubuntu setup (called ufw) and if you want to configure it, to install gufw from Synaptics or type in a terminal shell:

    # sudo apt-get install -y gufw

    You will then find an entry in GNOME:

    System -> Administration -> Firewall configuration

    By default, the firewall is running but allows all incoming and outgoing traffic, you just need to adjust according to your needs. May I suggest (for those that do not know what to configure into your firewall) that you allow all outgoing traffic and deny incoming traffic. This should be safe for starters and do let me know if you have problems with the firewall. No promises of a reply, but I'll do my best to help everyone out.

    For the anti-virus bit, all I can say is install one of the listed anti-viruses from my list in my blog post above and either keep it running in the background (not recommended) or make it a point to periodically scan your computers at least once a week. Feel free to comment your thoughts on this. :)

    You can read the article I mentioned at URL