Sure, it’s unfortunate that some Ubuntu users installed it thinking it was a screensaver, and then discovered it was grabbing something bad from some faraway site, and implanting it in their system. And yes, it’s completely unethical and therefore a Very Bad Thing to do that, but to be honest, we need to get past the “I use Linux, I am therefore bulletproof” mentality.
I’m not calling anyone dumb. I merely want to make a point. I’m glad because every list of reasons to use Linux includes that “no viruses, no malware” clause. But truth be told, most Windows systems that are properly maintained and carefully managed can go quite some time making the same claim.
And part of “carefully managed” is the idea that you don’t arbitrarily install software from untrusted sources or repositories, no matter what OS you run. I can remember a few years ago when someone set up an Ubuntu repository that included an update to the wallpaper for the standard Gnome desktop — and the image that was installed was a giant warning not to install software from unreliable repositories. No harm done, and the lesson was learned.
My point is that somebody still has to press the buttons before the machine becomes a threat to itself. Let’s face it, the real danger to a computer system isn’t the hardware and usually isn’t the software. It’s the human on the other side of the screen who poses a real threat. Left alone with no interference and a computer — any computer, regardless of operating system — will likely continue to idle for decades, or until its components finally stop working or someone accidentally unplugs the thing.
But insert a human into the equation, and suddenly all bets are off. Security be damned, the fact of the matter is that you, and I, are the weakest link.
So let’s move past the idea that a Linux system is able to walk on water, or that you and I are both somehow impervious to human fallacy because we chose a superior operating system. As long as we sit behind at the keyboard, the risk remains that one of us, you or I, will delude ourselves into thinking the machine is unsinkable, and suddenly prove ourselves wrong.
And the day someone finally puts together a virus with some real teeth in it, and dumps it on the Linux public? Well, that will be a happy day too. But for different reasons.