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This is actually a Mac OS X question, but since OS X is UNIX, network vulnerabilities should be similar.
I am an intern for ITS at Hamilton College and am currently involved in an anti-spyware project. We have done extensive testing on Windows versions of anti spyware and adware programs to protect our desktop computers from these problems. We want to investigate this issue on Mac OS X, which is a UNIX-based system. Are UNIX/Linux systems vulnerable to spyware/adware?
every sytstem is valnerable is everyhting, its peoples job that use these systems to takes procotions (firewalls and such), but if the computer did get some bad software from somwere it shouldent be overly hard to remove (after all, its hard to hide things in linux, almost everyhitng is in file format), any software that monitors and records hard drive use shold be easly able to find when and were any such softwere is
Not only that, the strong file/directory permissions of UNIX mean that if spyware managed to get into a properly secured system, it would only be able to infect the files of the user that it loaded as. As long as the spyware doesn't get a low/zero UID, it can't hurt anything.
Distribution: Slackware: in progress, Mandrake 9.2, Libranet, Vector
Why are Linux and Mac OS X safer?
First, look at the two factors that cause email viruses and worms to propagate: social engineering, and poorly designed software. Social engineering is the art of conning someone into doing something they shouldn't do, or revealing something that should be kept secret. Virus writers use social engineering to convince people to do stupid things, like open attachments that carry viruses and worms. Poorly designed software makes it easier for social engineering to take place, but such software can also subvert the efforts of a knowledgable, security-minded individual or organization. Together, the two factors can turn a single virus incident into a widespread disaster.
There is a lot more about viruses and worms. If interested read the whole article at http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/56/33226.html Since both viruses/worms and spyware are both similar in the fact that they both carry out processes in you computer that you don't want, I think this article is suitable for you.
In my opinion compared to windows, Unix is much safer because of the fact that only ediyots will use the computer as root in regular basis. Well you can't get crap on it without special permissions. Another factor is that any spyware on unix systems will easily be able detect and remove. Also I guess not using a registry helps too.
All of these topics are discuessed in the above article. Read if if you are interested.
Outstanding! I fully agree. extracted from the above article:
There is one Linux distribution that is ignoring many years of common sense, good design, and an awareness of secure operating environments in favor of a Microsoft-like deprecation of security before the nebulous term "ease of use": Lindows. By default, Lindows runs the user of the system as root (and it even encourages the user to forgo setting up a root password during installation by labeling it as "optional"!), an unbelievably shortsighted decision that results in a Linux box with the same security as a Windows 9.x machine.
Beware the false securty of Lindows! Well I never liked it as an alternative anyway. Not a true Linux!