A member of the open source community has thrown down the gauntlet to antivirus (AV) companies following expert warnings that Linux may increasingly be on the virus hit list.
Responding to a vnunet.com article last week, in which AV experts said that Linux is becoming more of a target, one Linux user has challenged "any AV company to infect my desktop Linux machine with an email borne virus".
In an open letter to the AV industry, David Skoll, head of Roaring Penguin Software, set out to debunk the "myths" or "misperceptions" surrounding Linux security.
Skoll said he firmly believes "that it is in the AV companies' interest for people to continue using insecure software. After all, obtaining millions of dollars of AV revenue depends on keeping people in a constant state of anxiety and unease."
He also criticised the manually run update system favoured as the default for many AV products.
"Do not force your customers to scramble for signature updates each time a new virus appears," he said. "Of course, this will hurt your revenue stream, but you should be more interested in the security of your clients, rather than the size of their wallets, right?"
The majority view of the open source community seems to be that, because of the uniformity of Windows desktops, a virus which exploits a software bug in Outlook is far more likely to propagate than one which exploits a software bug in a Linux email client.
However, Skoll conceded that a growing trend to build complex and interaction-rich Linux environments "could, if not designed correctly, increase the chances for viruses to execute and propagate".
But he maintained that so far, the architects are following sensible design and security procedures. "No one, for example, has built a Linux email client which automatically executes an attachment with just one mouse click," he said.
The full open letter and challenge can be read here.
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