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Does Linux Need Antivirus? | Is Your OS 100% Safe From Cyberattacks?

Linux systems have gained a reputation for being resistant to many malware. This is because they are securely designed and maintained hence are safer than other operating systems such as windows.

So, does Linux need an antivirus like the ones we reviewed here? Not really though you should know that malware for Linux does exist. For more information on why Linux is resistant to viruses, read the entire article. Meanwhile, it certainly helps to be aware of the best antivirus for Linux out there.

Top Linux Distributions/Distros/Versions

If you look at the Linux buildup, Linux is just a kernel or foundation for its distributions, distros, or versions.  This means that it needs to combine with other free software to make it complete.

 Ubuntu is one of those versions that many people have heard of though there are many out there. Each Linux distribution serves a different purpose and has a large dedicated community around it to protect it.

Here are some of the popular Linux distributions or distro;

Ubuntu.  This is an operating system or one of the distributions or versions of Linux. It is designed for smartphones, computers, network servers, and even televisions.  It has a customizable GUI which makes it popular for researchers and universities.

Mint; this is an easy to use Linux version. It is also popular and produces a comfortable operating system. If you are looking too for a secure, powerful, and graphical environment similar to windows, get this version.

Linux fedora OS; this is also another distribution for desktops, clouds, and other hardware.  It is a free and open-source platform that is supported by many developers, advocates, package maintainers, and testers.

man behind the laptop

Why Linux is not Affected by Virus

Linux and Mac work differently compared to other operating systems and that’s the key reason why they have been able to stay off hackers’ radar for so long.

With only a few malware programs or viruses on the internet that target Linux, there are close to a billion designed to exploit windows and this is why;

Everything on Linux must run through a package manager/s that are notorious for tighter restrictions and real-time security.

A Linux system has better built-in security measures such as software packages managers compared to windows operating systems. Users need authentication to install or uninstalling antivirus programs.

Linux distribution/s or versions have a small percentage of the desktop market shares; therefore, hackers don’t find it lucrative compared to windows platforms which have a larger market shares and offer more targets.

 Developing a virus for Linux users is much more difficult than windows users. Also, it requires a high skill set to infect or run it; so hackers would not want to invest in a new program that is aimed at Linux based systems such as Linux desktop.

Planting malware on a well set up Linux program with package managers is hard; users need to save the program before running it. They also need root permission to execute or run any software on the system.

Compared to windows operating systems, Linux and Mac are still more secure and the virus would likely be isolated unless the hacker has a root privilege which is less likely.

Unlike in windows operating systems where windows users are often given administrator rights; Linux has a good security practice whereby only a few trusted users have access to the root privileges and system files.

Linux has a dedicated community of developers working to improve user account security on its different distros. They are likely to identify software vulnerability before cyber attackers and rectify the security patches before they become a target.

linux security

Linux is not Immune to Malware Threats

Over the years, Linux users have enjoyed a malware-free experience but that is quickly changing.  As time goes on, this operating system is becoming susceptible to hacker attacks but not as much as windows based systems.

Though windows threats may be more common, it does not mean that there is no threat targeting Linux desktops or servers. They are not immune to threats which is why you should seek a proper antivirus software for Linux - see here whether AVG or Panda fit the bill.

Many Linux systems allow a user to download free programes like AVG antivirus or an open-source software from the internet. If the newly downloaded software contains harmful content like viruses, there is a high risk your machine or Linux server will be compromised. You will require an antivirus (see AVG vs McAfee review, or Norton vs AVG article) on Linux to remove it.

There have been instances where spyware penetrated the system and was spying on a user. Again, an antivirus - see this trusted antivirus software post - is required for this spyware.

padlock and a keyboard

Do I need Virus Protection on Ubuntu?

Yes, although Ubuntu vulnerabilities are still not as bad as those of windows; it doesn’t mean attackers cannot penetrate it . There have been all sorts of new attacks such as ransomware, botnets, rootkit, and Trojan virus.

Cybercriminals are more likely to target windows platforms which have over 80% of the market share. Developing new malicious computer software targeting windows user/s makes more economical sense because of the larger population reach.

Choosing readiness over inaction

Although Ubuntu is more secure because it has a small market share; today, it is proving more lucrative to hackers as more users switch to the platform.

If you’re running Ubuntu for an organization or company, you need antivirus software (see this antivirus cross-review) on Linux since hackers are now designing new and sophisticated programs to penetrate its security. The cost of losing valuable information cannot be compared to the cost of purchasing a top antivirus package as explained in this AVG Ultimate and AVG Internet Security review.

For instance, if you’re running a mail server, it would be damaging to a business’s reputation if data was stolen because of a lack of preparedness by the administration such as acquiring an antivirus on time.

Does Kali Linux Require Antivirus Software?

Kali Linux computers do not require antivirus. They are used for advanced testing to help businesses evaluate the security of their infrastructure such as servers. This is achieved through ethical hacking by safely exploiting found vulnerabilities.

It is an authorized attack simulator designed to check the organization’s network or identify vulnerabilities in computer applications. I don’t recommend getting antivirus programs for it because they might alter files already in Kali Linux.

However, if you feel like your Kali Linux is infected; I would recommend running a scan with one of the best known Linux antivirus programs such as ClamAV.

picture with text saying how to hack browser using kali linux and terminal open

Does Linux Operating Systems Require anti virus?

It is not a must to use or get antivirus programe for Linux. As I have discussed earlier, this operating system is more secure and safe than other OS hence does not need extra protection.

Also, is not widely used compared to Microsoft Windows based systems. Linux malware programs or Linux viruses are still rare, so you don’t need advanced security.

How to make your Linux System Safe

Although it is still considered one of the most secured operating systems, users really need to be careful not to run malicious scripts on the system to prevent deliberate infection.

Here are precautions to take to protect your Linux machines from threats such as malware or viruses,

Linux user is advised to get trusted software from authorized repositories such as Github.

If you are running cross-platform with a windows workstation; make sure to get up-to-date anti-virus software.

Remember to encrypt your hard drive because a simple login password can be easily bypassed with a bootable Linux USB flash disk.

Always keep your Linux distro and system applications up-to-date to prevent a hacker’s attack from taking advantage of vulnerabilities.

Enable Linux-based firewall because it is best at monitoring internet traffic which will help lock malicious traffic out.

You can install antivirus solution software or antivirus program to prevent infection plus patch any Linux security vulnerability that it might have.

Only share root privileges with a few Linux based system administrators to avoid compromising your system. Also, user groups should be restricted to access only specific system services and files.

Use strong passwords, perform regular backups, and train user/s on how to keep their devices safe from malware like viruses.


1. Why does Linux have no viruses?

Linux is one of the most secured OS available. Although some believe that this OS still has a small share of the market, and Malware is designed for mass destruction. No programmer would volunteer to spend his valuable time coding day and night for such a group, which is why Linux is known to have few or no viruses.

2. Can Linux get hacked?

Yes. Linux is a very popular hacker operating system. This is due to two primary reasons. To begin, because the OS is an open source, its source code is freely available. Malicious actors exploit vulnerabilities in Linux applications, software, and networks by utilizing Linux hacking tools.

3. Is Linux safe for online banking?

Yes. Linux is a very popular hacker operating system. This is due to two primary reasons. To begin, because it is an open source operating system, its source code is freely available. Malicious actors exploit vulnerabilities in Linux applications, software, and networks by utilizing Linux hacking tools.

4. Why Linux is faster than Windows?

In general, Linux is faster than Windows because of a variety of factors. Linux, on the other hand, is a lot lighter than Windows. Many programs in Windows run in the background, eating up RAM. Second, the Linux file system is exceptionally well-structured.

5. Why would someone use Linux?

GNU/Linux is extremely efficient with its use of the system's resources. Linux-based OS is compatible with a wide variety of hardware, from supercomputers to wristwatches. You can breathe new life into an old and slow Windows OS by installing a lightweight distribution of Linux, or even run a NAS or media streamer on top of a lightweight Linux distribution.

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

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