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Since I never used Linux, do I have to worry about the issues that are facing Windows?
Do I have to use anti-virus, spyware, firewall, and any other software for security purposes as the Windows user are, or Linux is simply safe enough that I don't have to run any of the security software that I run on Windows. Please explain.
Surely, firewall will not hurt. But there are some tens of viruses (not tons, but tens) found in the wild on Unix-like systems. Just Linux is too rare. But there are. But there was some ip-packet-only virus (so firewall is more or less critical). And spyware.. I understand that 100% of it is written with commercial purposes. And GNU/Linux is too rare, and too incompatible inside itself population. So costs won't return, it's more profitable to kick Windows users. So I guess that: firewall should be; backups should be; separate pseudo-uids for any network service are useful; anti-spyware toolkits - are there any? Anti-virus - not so necessary. Awareness - should be (although exploitation of specific Thunderbird-on-GNU/Linux vulnerabilities is likely to be personally - and more difficult to defend against). Never work as root for 10 minutes when 1 will be sufficient.
As stated above, a firewall is needed as the threats it counters occur in ANY OS, anti-virus can be used to scan windows shares. But there aren't many Linux virus' out there, and because of the Unix/Linux security model, they have minimum impact on a system with a smart user (any OS is going to fall prey if it's user is an igit).
I dont think (i am probably wrong) that there is any malware/spyware/etc. for Linux, but usual safe practises work best, don't download or run anything that you aren't certain of it's origin and purpose, keep your system uptodate with patches, maybe keep an eye on some mailing lists regarding your distro/linux in general and security threats.
LQ has a wonderful security forum that makes great readings on a long night, and you will find out alot more there.
As long as you install packages from your distributions repository, you should be safe from viruses and other malware as they would require you to actually install them your self. So dont go and use Bobs magic suse rpm repository.
The few viruses that there have been for Linux have been aimed at the services you may have running e.g. apache, portmap etc and things.