That's right, one of the long-time providers of Windows anti-virus solutions has finally ported to Linux. From the ESET website:
Desktop Linux distributions have surged in popularity on netbooks and low-cost office terminals. Linux has won for its fast startup time, low systems requirements and cost efficiency relative to popular platforms like Windows and Mac OS X.
And so they have decided it was time to join the few proprietary antivirus solutions for the Linux desktop. Personally, I was quite pleased with this news. But then I am of the mindset that you can never be too careful. And, although Linux machines are not susceptible to the multitude of viruses that Windows suffers from, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be protected. For those that scoff, I ask this simple question: Do you ever forward files or emails to users you KNOW are on Windows? If so, then why are you not protecting those users?
And that's what it ultimately boils down to when it comes to Linux antivirus solutions - protecting those who choose to go a less secure, more vulnerable route. It's shocking to find out, however, that this stance is in the vast minority among Linux users. Because Linux does not suffer the same fate that Windows suffers (in that it does not require an antivirus solution to be safe) most users don't bother.
What spurred me on to write this was the majority of reactions on the email list this was announced to. The over-riding opinion was, "Screw everyone not using Linux" and "Why should I protect everyone else?" One reader even pointed the list to an article, published in 2007, titled, "Note to new Linux users: No antivirus needed." Naturally that sentiment is fine if:
- You do not forward files or emails to other users.
- You forward/send files to users who ONLY use Linux.
But the moment you forward/send a file or an email (especially an HTML email or email with an attachment) to a Windows user, you make them vulnerable.
I find that stance to be irresponsible. And so do the makers of ESET NOD. So I decided to download, install, and try out the product. I have to say, I'm impressed. Installing the solution on a CentOS machine was a no-brainer and, surprisingly enough, when the scan was running full-bore the machine took no noticeable hit in performance. I was working as if nothing was going on in the background.
The product (currently in Beta testing) offers the following features:
- Real time scanner.
- Proactive detection of Linux, Mac, and Windows viruses, spyware, and other threats.
- Small and non-invasive updates.
- Convenient "check for updates" functionality.
- Intuitive and elegant look-and-feel.
The Beta test program for ESET NOD for Linux will continue until the makers have determined the product ready for shipping. At that point the beta versions of the software will cease to work and, I would imagine, anyone wanting to continue on with protection will have to purchase a license. As we have concluded recently, this is going to be a challenge for the creators as the majority of Linux users do not seem to want to lay down coin for software. From my perspective, if you are using Linux in a production environment where there are computers that are more susceptible to viruses, do yourself and everyone around you a favor and purchase a license for this product or a product like it.
Linux users owe it to Windows users to protect them in ways their native operating system can not. It's a crazy, infected PC world out there. I, for one, am glad I never have to worry about my own machine getting hit with viruses or malware. But there are plenty of people out there I do care about who are vulnerable. It is my responsibility to make sure I do not send them infected files. To that end I will use whatever means I have to in order to protect them. If that means installing an anti-virus solution on my Linux desktops...so be it.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.