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Most of us know the basic security practices on Windows:

  • use a limited account
  • set a password
  • disable unused services
  • uninstall bloatware
  • Antivirus / Antimalware
  • etc.

    I haven't ran linux as my main desktop computer before, so I don't know how to properly secure it. I have heard linux is supposed to be more secure than Windows, but I know that the default settings of anything are rarely secure. What are some things I should do as a new Linux user to secure my desktop system from attack?

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    up vote 3 down vote accepted

    Users coming from Windows often search the net for software they need and install it from there. That's wrong for Ubuntu. Use the package manager (Software Centre, Synaptics, ...) to install software.

    Try avoid installing software not contained in the distro's official repository as much as possible, and if you really need it be careful to use only trustworthy sources that you can expect to provide updates if necessary. PPAs aren't necessary trustworthy.

    The Ubuntu default installation doesn't install any software listening on the outside network so you don't have to care about ports by default.

    If you want to setup a firewall ufw and its GUI frontend gufw are easy to use. Note that they only provide filtering on ports, IP numbers and such, not on programs or users. If you don't want to provide services to the outside world blocking any port < 1024 for incoming traffic is usually a good thing. is a good starting point for reading.

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    The practices on Linux are for the most part quite similar. Viruses and malware are less of a problem since no one is really targeting it en-masse. Just make sure that any unused ports are locked down, that you have something like fail2ban in place, and that your email to root is aliased somewhere else (edit /etc/aliases and send it somewhere useful). And of course, keep up with security patches from your distro vendor.

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    Does Ubuntu and other distros have firewalls, automatic updates, etc. setup by default? I mean linux is great, but I assumed there would have to be some mundane tasks to do before it was up and running securely. I guess it looks like it's just that easy. – Daisetsu May 1 '10 at 0:08
    The firewall tools are built-in. Not entirely sure about the automatic updates as I don't run Ubuntu, but I imagine that they have something comparable. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams May 1 '10 at 0:18
    Mostly these tips are relevant for a server setup, not a desktop. It is true for Linux in general, though, that viruses and malware are not much of a problem, at least not compared to Windows, for exactly the reason stated. – David Z May 1 '10 at 2:47
    @Daisetsu: Ubuntu does have automatic updates set up by default, and for the reason Florian explained you may not even need a firewall. Some other Linux distros require you to set these things up manually. (Those distros are generally intended for people who want a lot of control and actually prefer not to have the firewall etc. automatically configured) – David Z May 1 '10 at 2:49

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