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Linux Ticker: Viruses on Unix systems

Nov 08, 1999, 16:00 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Oliver Maruhn)

"Many new users of Linux think that their system is in contrast to DOS or Windows immune to viruses. Rado shows how Linux and Unix systems in general are vulnerable to viruses, too. In fact the first viruses infected Unix systems...."

"Yes, just like any other OS, Linux may be infected, too. Like Windows NT or MacOS. Not only PCs with DOS or Windows, or Amiga, can host viral code. But then, why don`t we see more viruses on Linux or Windows NT?"

"You might be surprised by the fact that some of the first computer viruses were Unix viruses (probably the first one is Elk Cloner, coded sometime between 1980 and 1982). Some early Unix viruses were written by Fred Cohen on VAX running 4BSD, one year after Elk Cloner appeared. Despite the usual belief, Unices are not protected from viruses automatically. Of course, the logic of the code is much different, so people who are used to think about viruses that run on DOS or Windows (except for NT) usually do not understand or underestimate the danger of Unix viruses."

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