Why You Don’t Need an Antivirus On Linux (Usually)

This article was originally posted on How-to-Geek.

Believe it or not, there are antivirus programs targeted at desktop Linux users. If you have just switched to Linux and stWhen You Need an Antivirus on Linuxarted looking for an antivirus solution, don’t bother – you do not need an antivirus program on Linux.

There are some situations when running an antivirus on Linux makes sense, but the average Linux desktop isn’t one of them. You would only want an antivirus program to scan for Windows malware.

Few Linux Viruses Exist in the Wild

Package Managers and Software Repositories: When you want to install a new program on your Windows desktop, you head to Google and search for the program. When you want to install most programs on Linux, you open your package manager and download it from your Linux distribution’s software repositories. These repositories contain trusted software that has been vetted by your Linux distribution – users aren’t in the habit of downloading and running arbitrary software.

When You Need an Antivirus on Linux

Antivirus software isn’t entirely useless on Linux. If you are running a Linux-based file server or mail server, you will probably want to use antivirus software. If you don’t, infected Windows computers may upload infected files to your Linux machine, allowing it to infect other Windows systems.

The antivirus software will scan for Windows malware and delete it. It isn’t protecting your Linux system – it’s protecting the Windows computers from themselves.

You can also use a Linux live CD to scan a Windows system for malware.

Linux isn’t perfect and all platforms are potentially vulnerable. However, as a practical matter, Linux desktops don’t need antivirus software.

Author: Wayne Boyd

Wayne Edward Boyd was born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1953. He is a published author, former ISKCON sannyasi, and traveler, having lived on 3 continents and visited 37 countries. He presently lives in Amarillo, Texas working as a correctional officer and has interests in photography, political science and astronomy.

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