Windows and Mac OS, watch out. A UK government agency tested different IT platforms to see which would be the most secure, and found that Linux (Ubuntu 12.04 in particular) was significantly better than Windows 8 and Mac OS X. The tests were run to evaluate performance in areas such as disk encryption, secure start-up, malicious code prevention and detection, virtual private networking and platform integrity under multi-tasking. The agency (CESG, Communications-Electronics Security Group) also identified a Samsung platform based on Android as a leader in mobile device security. Will the business world now flip over to Linux and Android as a consequence?
Such a radical change (Windows still has by the largest share of the PC operating market) is unlikely in the near future. However, with IT security closely linked to both business continuity and disaster recovery, findings like these certainly encourage enterprises to take a closer look. Aha, you say – isn’t the security track record of Windows linked to its dominance of the market, and the fact that there are so many opportunities to attack it? And won’t Linux also become a victim of its own success in this sense, if it achieves mainstream business popularity?
While availability to be attacked is a factor, Linux may be better off for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the tests by the CESG were technical and evaluated systems on an absolute basis of how secure they were – not how many people might be trying to hack them. Secondly, Linux benefits from numerous communities of users that actively produce solutions to security holes and vulnerabilities. This is in contrast to Windows, for which only Microsoft can produce patches, and similarly Mac OS, tended to by Apple alone. On the other hand, Linux will need to claim a bigger place in the hearts of both business users and business software developers if it is to truly conquer the business world.