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What is the Ubuntu “built in virus protection”?

One question I get asked a lot is why there are no viruses on Ubuntu (Linux in general). Even though it is possible to infect it and a small amount of low level bugs have appeared, I wanted to point out the key elements that make it very tough for viruses and malware in general to infect Ubuntu as easy as in Windows, specially the 2 most common effects which are:

  • The action of infecting a computer
  • The action of propagating to other computers.

Using the common characteristics of a virus which are:

  • Attaching/Modifying a file
  • Attaching/Modifying a process

So why is it so difficult for a virus to infect Ubuntu?. Why is it so difficult to infect the most known parts of Ubuntu for example:

  • The kernel
  • Default packages
  • PPA Packages
  • Other packages (Website DEB Package, Source)
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marked as duplicate by Eliah Kagan, Jorge Castro, jokerdino, Mitch, stephenmyall Aug 24 '12 at 9:07

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

I do think your question has been answered throughout all questions under Related. – Uri Herrera Aug 23 '12 at 4:22
@UriHerrera - Yeah I checked several (Don't want to post them in the comment to not the space to write but type "virus" and "malware" in the search box) but they did not directly point out the "why" factor which is a big deal when trying to explain a windows user. Without the "why" it makes it real hard for them to understand it. For all they know, I am either lying or there is no such thing as a system that does not get viruses as Windows does. So for the sake of having a site where I can point users to, I am looking for a "Why" when talking about Ubuntu. Did I explain it correctly? – Luis Alvarado Aug 23 '12 at 4:28
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The system and especially its kernel belongs to root and are write-protected. So a malicious software, if it's launched by a common user, has no way to corrupt any critical file.

Of course that means that you should never log in as root or administrator, except if you have a precise reason to do so (i.e. to perform explicit actions on the system), and, in this case, you should log out as soon as possible.

This is not peculiar to Ubuntu. It's true for any Unix/Linux systems.

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If you can, please explain it a little more in detail so Windows users can learn about "why" it is more difficult. – Luis Alvarado Aug 23 '12 at 4:29

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