Servers running Linux have worse breach track record than Windows…

January 1st, 2005

A recent study by mi2g reveals that BSD may be living up to its reputation of being one of the most secure operating systems available at present. The results from the study show that Apple customers running Apple Mac OS X, an implementation of BSD, appear also to benefit from the operating system’s track record.

Out of a total sample of 197,488 successful and independently verifiable overt digital attacks against online servers worldwide recorded by the mi2g SIPS database over the last twelve months the least breached Operating System (OS) was BSD including BSD/OS, OpenBSD, FreeBSD and Mac OS X which together recorded just 6,278, ie, 3.2% successful hacker attacks. All versions of Mac OS recorded just 255 online attacks against themselves, ie, less than 0.13%.

All flavours of Microsoft Windows Servers recorded 68,398 online server breaches, ie, 34.6%. However, Windows Server 2003 recorded just 178 attacks against itself, ie, less than 0.09%. These numbers do not include malware – virus and worm – breaches. The top ten virus and worms of all time have all targeted Microsoft software including the recent Sobig, which was the most economically damaging malware on record according to mi2g Intelligence Unit data.

Linux, including Debian, Mandrake, Red Hat, SCO and Suse distributions, recorded 105,848 breaches, ie, 53.6%. The high number of attacks against Linux may be a result of a greater market share within the online server market.

The precise market share of each operating system within the online server market is difficult to ascertain because of licensed versus non-licensed versions currently deployed. Various surveys reveal remarkably different numbers. All surveys are agreed that the most main stream operating systems deployed in the server market at present are BSD, Linux and Microsoft Windows.