Someone I know said he had put spyware on my computer. Is he talking crap? I've been using Ubuntu 12.04 for nearly 3 years now and I've never seen any type of spyware, remote keyloggers or RATS (remote access tools) and likewise, backdoors. I've searched several Ubuntu forums and nothing. Other than that Amazon thing. If they even exist, are there antivirus scanners to find, identify and remove them?

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    As spyware can be for any OS, and aren't so evident in Linux distros because of increased security and smaller market share, they certainly exist. – Abhimanyu Jul 29 '14 at 2:35
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    Yes, but it's open-source ;) – Thomas Levesque Jul 29 '14 at 9:42
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    This question was recently covered on security.SE: security.stackexchange.com/questions/63097/… – dotancohen Jul 29 '14 at 15:30
  • Even if there is no information on spyware for ubuntu available, your 'someone you know' could have written it themselves. Spyware can exist for every OS, ubuntu is just targeted less, because there are far more windows computers, rendering targeting Windows computers more lucrative. – 11684 Jul 29 '14 at 20:28
  • @11684 case-in-point, I have homemade spyware (Programmer for a living) running on all user accounts but mine on my Mint OS. It's very helpful to make sure certain people aren't doing certain things within a series of tubes. – Thebluefish Jul 29 '14 at 22:07

There is spyware for every operating system. It is more prevalent for windows than any other operating system because it is used more. There are around 40 known spyware applications for Linux. It is not common but it can happen. As for antivirus this is a list that may help you. Best of luck!


  • do any of these protect against backdoors, or other non-file applications? – user310141 Jul 29 '14 at 4:18
  • @user310141 i am not sire on anything application specific. I am sure it is listed on their website though. – Jared Jul 29 '14 at 11:18
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    I think this answer to be totally misleading for newbies, as they may install some of this software and think they are safe. One can create a way to watch what's happening on another PC in linux by just typing 2 line in X config - no software can protect you from that. "Don't give anyone your user password" is a single way to be safe. – Barafu Albino Jul 29 '14 at 12:10
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    @BarafuAlbino I would have thought not giving out passwords was obvious. – Jared Jul 29 '14 at 12:12
  • "because Windows is more popular" is (generally) not a valid response to questions about Linux viruses. Linux is much more common than Windows with regards to servers, embedded systems, etc. – apnorton Jul 30 '14 at 1:08

If your friend is familiar with programming, it is possible that he has written a custom spyware script. That is quite easy under Linux, and a common prank to play on unsuspecting friends. Because it is custom, no antivirus program may be able to find it.

Some common places to hide such scripts are the startup files in your home directory, ~/.bashrc etc.

The most straight-forward and reliable way to find such a script would be to run a compare against your latest backup before the incident.


Spyware also exists in browser apps (like those for chrome) so even if you are absolutely sure you have nothing local installed that contains spyware, if you use untrusted webapps, you can be exposed.


Yes, there is spyware-like behavior in several Unix applications.

I worry most about all the applications sending auto-update and metadata lookup requests, often with information about your computer and network activity.

You can use a tool like Wireshark to detect any suspicious network activity and track it down to which applications are sending information. If the upload is not encrypted, Wireshark will even show you the content.


If you are using a desktop computer and have a keyboard attached to it, then you should check if there is a key logger put between your keyboard and your computer.

Obviously such a key logger will not care what OS you run.


Any system can have virus.

If your friend, had direct acess at your ubuntu or know the root password, will be easy to put some keylogger in it.

Look up if he put logkeys https://code.google.com/p/logkeys/

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