If you have installed Linux or even if you are just thinking about installing one, you might be worried about its security and can it be hacked? I was also worried about the same when I was first installing Linux on my PC. This question is very obvious as there are always people out there who always want to do such things.
You might also have heard this, “Linux is very secure” as its one of the features of Linux. But is it true or just a myth? That’s why I thought about writing this article to answer all these questions.
So, Can Linux be hacked? The answer to this question is Yes, Linux systems can be hacked. Even though they are very secure, hacking a Linux system is still possible. But the chances of getting it hacked are less as compared to Windows.
As there are various factors involved in making Linux a very secure OS. But still, some mistakes can make it vulnerable to hackers.
How Can Linux be Hacked?
Even though Linux is a very secure OS it can be hacked. It’s mainly because of the mistakes from the user’s side, like not updating apps, programs, installing vulnerable third-party apps, and user errors.
Running outdated apps and programs
Running outdated apps and programs can be one of the main reasons for being a Linux system hacked. As when most apps and programs are open source on Linux. Its source code can be seen by anyone to find vulnerabilities.
These vulnerabilities are fixed in updates, but if not updated these vulnerabilities can be used by attackers. The same is true for the Linux system also, if not updated vulnerabilities in it can work in favor of hackers.
Installing third party or compromised apps
Software and apps can work as a gateway for hackers if not downloaded from the official and reputed sources. As hackers bundle apps and software’s with malware inside. This can hack any system as they are installed unknowingly by authorized users.
Hackers take advantage of this and offer various interesting feature and paid software’s for free. But generally these are infected with some kind of malware.
User Error can be the most common cause of getting a system hacked. Like downloading document that is instead an executable file. Which if executed can install malware. Or granting root access to a program that can infect the whole system. This is also the most common method of hacking even used on Windows.
The user is tricked into installing malware while the user wanted to install some program. These are some of the common reasons that can get the Linux system hacked.
Let’s now see how what makes Linux secure and then we will see how can we prevent it from possible hacks.
How is Linux is so Secure?
Linux is not like any other distro, it was created with security in mind. Now someone might say Linux is just a kernel. That’s true Linux is just a kernel but that kernel powers most number of servers all across the world. And there is a reason for that.
One most important thing here is the sheer number of malware created for Windows is way more than Linux. 77% of computers use Windows and only 2% use Linux. This explains why creators prefer to create malware for Linux instead of Windows. As malware developed for an operating system is directly proportional to its popularity. Because more popularity benefits scammers and black hat hackers to earn higher profits.
The other reason for Linux’s security is the launching of an executable file. Unlike Windows, in which launching an executable file is easy, the same is not the case with Linux. To launch an executable file (for example .deb files) on Linux requires a user account password is required. This makes the system secure in case of unauthorized installations even if one kept the system unattended for some time.
Linux is more secure by design
In Linux, all the important system-related files are owned by the “root” superuser. So even if the system somehow got infected, the malware or viruses remain at the user account level from where it was installed. This makes removing the malware easy, as these do not affect the whole system.
Only the root user has access to the whole system and system files. And popular Linux distros like Ubuntu do not normally use a root account. So even if a user account got infected. One should be able to fix it through the root user account.
How Linux’s open-source nature makes it more secure
One might think that Linux’s open-source nature makes it vulnerable to attacks as everyone can see its code and find vulnerabilities. But this same principle makes Linux more secure. Unlike Windows in which only a few selected can see the code, find and fix vulnerabilities. Linux has a huge community that’s looking at its code, which makes finding and fixing vulnerabilities fast.
But all these things still can’t prevent Linux from hacking, Linux can still be hacked just like any other operating system. There have already been few instances when Linux systems were hacked. But these instances are few because of the above-mentioned reasons. As Linux systems still can be hacked here is what you can do to save your system from being hacked.
Tips to improve the security and prevent Linux from getting hacked.
Almost all the Linux distributions come pre-installed with a firewall. But these firewalls are not preconfigured and activated. It’s better to enable and configure the firewall to improve security. Although it is not like your system at risk. As generally, all the ports on distros like Ubuntu are closed by default. Which prevents your system from being accessed by intruders.
But activating the firewall is always the better option to improve security. As even though firewall does not consume many resources when enabled, but does ads a layer of security if enabled.
Downloading apps and software from unknown resources is one of the most common causes of systems being hacked. So its better to look out from where you are downloading the software.
I would recommend always downloading the programs from the official repositories or software center only. And if the official repositories don’t have your required software or have an older version, then in such cases download from official websites of the publishers.
Use a secure browser and always keep it updated. Firefox is one of them and contains built-in Phishing and malware protection. This keeps you safe from some common phishing attacks.
Updates are one of the most important things for improving security of a system. Vulnerabilities when detected are fixed in future updates. So its important to keep your system as well as all the apps updated. This could prevent you from attacks due to any known vulnerability.
Yes, a Linux distro can be hacked just like any other operating system. But due to the above-mentioned reasons, it’s somewhat more secure than Windows. But you still need to be aware to prevent your system from being hacked does not matter even if its Linux based.