What is Linux Malware? Here’s what you need to know about it
There was a time when people thought Linux devices were immune to malware. But last year’s Mirai botnet attacks, which turned network devices running Linux into remotely controlled bots that targeted consumer devices like IP cameras and home routers via Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, clearly serve as an indication that Linux machines are not totally hack-proof.
If recent studies from IT security experts are to be believed—and they are—then Linux malware is on the rise. It is time for the Linux community, now that vulnerabilities have been exposed, took appropriate security measures against threats. A decade ago, Linux was obscure outside of the server world. But today, it is widespread enough to be a worthy target for malware.
There is no doubt that Linux is becoming ubiquitous. Android apps use it. There are Linux-based routers, home automation gizmos, and other devices. Considering its popularity, hackers are increasingly finding Linux a worthy target.
The fault lies not with Linux developers, but with vendors who release routers, consumer electronics, and IoT gear with outdated Linux kernels and no way to update them. It’s usually left to users to be sufficiently motivated to find out about updates and install them on their own.
Recently, a potent malware called OutLawCountry highlighted Linux’s vulnerability. OutLawCountry was deployed by the CIA to infiltrate various Linux systems. This was a shock to the security world, which had previously taken as dogma that Linux was far more secure than Windows.
So, what can Linux users do to protect themselves?
- Install Antivirus: A basic precautionary step which can go a long way in securing your Linux device. Antivirus solutions offer great protection against malware of various kinds. Make sure you have one installed.
- Keep Your System Updated: Just like with other Operating Systems, keeping your Linux system up-to-date ensures that security holes or vulnerabilities are patched up. This means that the chances of a malware attack are less.
- Install Firewalls: Running firewalls in Linux keeps outsiders from making unwanted connections to your network. Linux users have a number of tools which are versatile and easy to use, and that allow a great degree of granular control over access to the network.
- Don’t Trust Public Networks: Public Wi-Fis are a big liability. Anyone with the right software and wireless setup can sniff the unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic buzzing through the air. So, avoid them at all costs. They are breeding grounds for various kinds of malware that will inject themselves into your device the moment you connect to them.
- Backup Your Data: Last but not least, be sure to back up your data. It seems obvious, but many forget to do so regularly. It is a basic step that can prove useful in times of crisis. There are several ways to backup data to an external source. Use one of them for frequent backups.
Julia Sowells960 Posts
Julia Sowells has been a technology and security professional. For a decade of experience in technology, she has worked on dozens of large-scale enterprise security projects, and even writing technical articles and has worked as a technical editor for Rural Press Magazine. She now lives and works in New York, where she maintains her own consulting firm with her role as security consultant while continuing to write for Hacker Combat in her limited spare time.