The seemingly impermeable Linux membrane looked a little less stable earlier this month after a viral attack in the shape of a Trojan surfaced in an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) forum for the popular shoot-em-up game Unreal.
While the Linux community has not made specific claims to be virus free, the prevalence of the Windows operating system has up until now left Linux and indeed Apple’s OS X comparatively out of harms way.
The compromise was highlighted on the game’s chat forum and detailed the fact that this attack may have been initiated in November 2009, but went unnoticed until now. Trojan backdoor malware takes the form of software code that appears to perform a useful function, but once downloaded opens up unauthorised access to a user’s machine.
While this attack was “only” on a video game IRC channel, it does highlight the false sense of security that may be prevalent in enterprise level installations of Linux as a server or desktop operating system.
While Linux gurus agree that the operating system is not bulletproof, companies such as AVG have already developed anti virus suites dedicated to the needs of Linux users. So while the kernel and upward structure of Linux itself arguably makes the operating system harder to attack – vulnerabilities do exist.
The closing argument from open source devotees here will be that when these vulnerabilities do surface, that they are often fixed through the work of community participants immediately (or at least very quickly), rather than having to having to enter a long slow “to-do” line inside some corporate shell. Either way, look out!