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ABC News: Linux Sux Redux; The Open-Source Platform Is Open to a Slew of Vulnerabilities

Aug 02, 2000, 15:40 (55 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Fred Moody)

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"Less well known than its market-share gains are the far more rapid gains Linux is making on Microsoft in the number of "known vulnerabilities" in its code. Linux zealots for years have insisted that the operating system is an invulnerable perpetual motion machine, incapable of crashing or being infested by the kinds of worms and viruses that hackers are constantly sending Microsoft-powered servers. This boast has been easy to make, since until 1999 Linux was too much of a fringe product to stand up to the kind of abuse more widely used systems endure."

"But now comes news from BugTraq that gives the lie to the widely held belief that Linux is any less vulnerable than its competitors. Linux's known weaknesses turn out to be proliferating faster than its market share. BugTraq publishes "Vulnerability Database Statistics" (a list of bugs, essentially, that are discovered each year in various software products) that demonstrate rather dramatically how determined Linux is to join the Big Leagues -- if not necessarily in market share, then in what might be called "vulnerability share."

"BugTraq is careful to preface its list with a long list of qualifiers... All that aside, though, one conclusion is inescapable: If you look this list over, and measure each system's number of vulnerabilities against the number of its customers, Linux is arguably the worst operating-system product in history, and Microsoft's the best. As Linux zealots are beginning to find out, it's a lot easier to masquerade as a better product than it is to go out and be one."

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