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I know that linux is mostly safe from viruses, however: if you do download a windows virus (i.e., through a drive-by download), will it just sit there on your computer, and take up space? Is it unable to infect files because of the different operating system? If you transfer files between computers (by using a usb flash drive or through online file sharing), is there any risk that the virus could be transferred to windows and activate?

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marked as duplicate by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Xavierjazz, Carl B, Moses, Tog Nov 13 '13 at 7:54

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

up vote 2 down vote accepted

First, you are talking about Trojan's, not viruses, which is an important distinction for your particular question.

A drive-by attack downloads a malicious file to your computer, and then executes it. upon executing, the trojan performs its bad actions.

Since a windows trojan will not be able to execute on the Linux kernel, it will just sit there taking up space exactly as you suggest. in this state it is not dangerous.

If a windows OS were to access and execute the trojan however, (perhaps over fileserver share connection as Rich suggests) the windows machine may become infected.

Note however that the trojan will not 'activate' itself, unless run. there is a minute possiblilty that your windows system may autorun the trojan when you plug the flash drive in, so be sure your autorun/autoplay features are set cautiously.

Other than that, using some common sense and healthy skepticism your risk is minimal. Don't click exe's that you don't know, especially if you haven't scanned them with an updated AV system (though AV is far from a guarentee that the file is clean ).

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1) if Linux is a file server, Windows may see the file

2) It's rare, but there are viruses that can cross platforms There's some Java code that can (unsurprising) and actually some executables that can infect both sides (more surprising). Flash can be exploited as well.

Be cautious. Run ClamAV on your Linux host. Keep your browser up to date. Keey your system up to date. Try not to run Flash or Java.

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The major concern is harmless malicious software ran on Linux or OS X that looks to infect any drive it can with harmful targeted software. As you point out cross platform code that might infect the autorun capability of a flash drive which then infects any Windows installation its placed in. A autorun.ini is only a couple thousand bytes at the end of the day. – Ramhound Nov 12 '13 at 20:35

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