I am running Ubuntu 9.1 on a Sun Virtual box and I use this virtual machine to browse the net. My host OS is Windows XP. I am running my anti-virus, anti-spyware application on the host OS only. Does this provide me security while I browse using virtual machine also? or I have to do something else? Also, does using a virtual machine (esp with Ubuntu) provide me any extra security as I believe there are less viruses written for this OS compared to XP.


The short answer: the AV on the host machine, doesn't protect the guest machine (VM).

As for Ubuntu security vs XP security: yes, it is true that there are less viruses written for linux, and there are less known exploits and attacks against linux. This doesn't mean linux is completely safe, but it is way safer than XP.

  • thanks for the reply..can you recommend a good anti-virus for Ubuntu? – user10056 Nov 10 '09 at 16:48
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    ClamAV: clamav.net – John T Nov 10 '09 at 16:50
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    I agree. ClamAV should do the trick. – Moshe Nov 11 '09 at 10:31

No. If you want security on the virtual machine you need to install security software on the virtual machine. The host does no scanning of files being downloaded to the virtual machine, it only allows it's network connection to be shared with the VM.


I would just leave AV software on your host machine and not worry too much about the AV situation on your Ubuntu box. If all you're using it for is to browse the Internet, then simply take a snapshot of your VM and on the off-chance it gets infected simply restore the VM.

  • so that means whatever virus that infects my guest OS will have no effect on host OS..I know that makes sense, but just want to be sure. – user10056 Nov 10 '09 at 16:59
  • Not entirely true - you can use VM's "document sharing" where it shares the doc folder between the two OS'es and have an infected file there. It may not affect your Host O/S but you could pass it on to others. – Nicolas Webb Nov 11 '09 at 15:26

Your virus checker will not scan your Ubuntu virtual disk, normally you would have to install a seperate virus checker in that OS (as I have in my Windows 7 VM running on a Snow Leopard host).

You will automatically have more security in Ubuntu (not because of the VM setup though), mainly for the reason you state (less viruses). There are virus checkers available if you want to use one, though. Something like Clam should do nicely.

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