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How is Linux not prone to viruses, malware and those kinds of things?

I want to get some broad level sense of why Windows is more prone to viruses than Linux.. What features/design of Windows make it so vulnerable and make Linux more immune?

Some things which come to my mind (purely out of imagination):

  • Windows perhaps lets more code/instructions etc to run in kernel mode? which gives normal user programs more access to hardware,priviledged resources etc

  • There is more community trying to hack Windows, hence more windows viruses out there

  • Linux system calls are more robust.. What does it mean though?

Thanks,

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These questions cover the broad space quite well: superuser.com/questions/195387/…, superuser.com/questions/58835/viruses-windows-vs-linux –  nik May 18 '11 at 12:30
    
If more people used Linux virus writers would expend more effort finding vulerabilities and trying to exploit them. That's really the primary reason behind the apparent "security" of Apple and Linux products. –  music2myear May 18 '11 at 14:13
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marked as duplicate by nik, Kyle, Linker3000, techie007, afrazier May 18 '11 at 13:09

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2 Answers

Just one point: Linux has the only one root user (equal to Windows Administrator) and all of its other accounts are standard users accounts with restricted priviledges to modify system files.

PC (Windows) users generally create their accounts to be Windows Administrator accounts. Therefore when they run a rouge programme, it run with administrator privileges and has permission to change system files.

In a linux machine, you'll have to manually input the root password which acts as a line of defense.

Like I said, just one small point.

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This is why Windows Vista added UAC. –  Shinrai May 18 '11 at 14:12
    
True. But UAC sucks for admin users. They don't want to be bothered by a continue option when they have rights (You don't get bothered when you are the root user); and that's why it didn't sell. UAC makes sense for standard users though, which very few Windows user accounts are. –  Thomas May 18 '11 at 14:19
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I didn't say it was GOOD, I just said that's what it's FOR. :) In fairness, it does protect people running as admin from a lot of "oopsies!" moments that can happen in Linux environments. –  Shinrai May 18 '11 at 14:20
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Sorry. Habitual rant!! –  Thomas May 18 '11 at 14:22
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Windows have MFC, an API that permit virus to do a lot of damage. You also have to considerate that Windows is a paid-software, something that advanced users (who can make virus) dont like. Another think to considerate is that there are a lot of users that have Windows instead of another systems and there is less programmers then linux (a colaborative system that have a lot of programmers spread on the world).

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I have no clue why anyone would bring up MFC for this... –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams May 18 '11 at 12:52
    
There are a lot of funcitions on Windows API that are bad-implemented and permits a developer to explore it and make a virus –  Diogo May 18 '11 at 12:59
    
MFC is not the Windows API. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams May 18 '11 at 12:59
    
So what should it be? –  Diogo May 18 '11 at 13:02
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