According to a study the British security firm mi2g, Linux is the world's "most breached" OS and is exploited more frequently than Windows. The company recently analyzed more than 235,000 successful attacks against computers that were permanently connected to the Internet during the past year and concluded that Linux was responsible for most of the successful exploits.
"For how long can the truth remain hidden, that the great emperors of the software industry are wearing no clothes fit for the fluid environment in which computing takes place, where new threats manifest every hour of every day?" DK Matai, mi2g's executive chairman, said in a statement. "Busy professionals ... don't have the time to cope with umpteen flavors of Linux or to wait for Microsoft's Longhorn when Windows XP has proved to be a stumbling block in some well-chronicled instances."
According to mi2g, Linux-based computers accounted for more than 65 percent of all successful electronic attacks during the past year, whereas Windows-based systems were responsible for only 25 percent. Attacks against Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD)-based systems were successful less than 5 percent of the time. However, it's worth noting--although mi2g didn't--that BSD-based machines make up a small percentage of the installed base of permanently connected machines. In all probability, those machines weren't attacked simply because there was little incentive to do so, not because of any inherent superiority over Linux- or Windows-based systems.
The mi2g study also analyzed the impact of malware during the same time period and found that most malware attacks--about 60 percent--successfully targeted small businesses, whereas about 33 percent successfully targeted home users. Only 6 percent of malware attacks successfully targeted midsized businesses, whereas 2.5 percent successfully targeted enterprises, government agencies, and similar firms. According to the company, 459 successful malware attacks occurred during the past year, most of which targeted Windows-based systems. Malware rarely targeted BSD-based and Linux systems.
These electronic attacks are taking an economic toll. The firm says that electronic attacks such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks caused as much as $123 billion in damages during the past year. Malware attacks were responsible for $202 billion in damages during the same time period.