ClamAv found 50 viruses on my computer, mostly associated with PlayOnLinux. Is this normal? Is it a significant risk? Should I be concerned? How do I learn more about these viruses so I can judge how to respond? This Pishing Viruses, are they dangerous?

screenshot of ClamAV output

  • 7
    PlayOnLinux viruses are Windows viruses, and not Linux. – Mitch Feb 22 '15 at 13:49
  • 2
    ClamAV scans for Windows vruses too. It's not a bug, it's a feature. That way you can scan files on Ubuntu before you copy them to Windows. If you also have Windows OS installed, this is a useful feature. – karel Feb 22 '15 at 13:51
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    Please dont assume that the virus's cannot run on Linux, the damn game does right? Wine maps Windows Syscalls to Linux syscalls. If you run it under Wine then wine is going to try its hardest to execute it. What the code of the virus does would depend on if it executes successfully or not. – 0x7c0 Feb 22 '15 at 17:01

True, "Linux is virus free" is a myth. And it's also an extremely inaccurate and vague sentence.

You can read a lot on this topic, and there are a lot of articles explaining you what kind of "virus" (believe me, it's the wrong word to define such things, but let's use it for this discussion) are out there, how a "virus" may harm you, and how unlikely this event can be on a desktop system.

To start I suggest you to read Is Linux Immune to Viruses?

Actually if you:

  • use a recent release of Ubuntu that's currently supported
  • install only packages from main repositories and Ubuntu Software Center
  • set a complex user password
  • keep your system constantly updated
  • setup ufw firewall

the odds that you get any harm from a "virus" or "malware" are extremely low, approaching zero.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself from potentially harmful "viruses" is to read and learn about system inner workings and security. No software can be as effective as "security device" as knowledge. ;-)

About your experiences: since PlayOnLinux uses Wine to make Windows software run on GNU/Linux, you are able to run most of the software that can run on Microsoft Windows, even viruses. Actually they are a lot less harmful on Ubuntu than on Windows, since Wine isolate them from most of the system, but still they can do something.

What ClamAV found were the exactly the same Windows viruses you could get on Windows. Maybe you got them trying to install something from untrustworthy sources, that you ought to avoid anyway.

So, in conclusion, it's practically true that "Linux is virus free", as long as you stick on the 5 points above. ;-)

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    Don't forget to mention that some rootkit-like features won't work on WINE and your games might crash. If you wonder why a game is crashing, download the NO-CD crack. – Ismael Miguel Feb 22 '15 at 21:25
  • I doubt any virus is gonna start brute forcing your password is it? – Tim Jun 6 '15 at 19:13

Well, that made my day! :D

Let us see... Linux is not exactly virus free. If you let a certain malicious script run, it might install some little programs to steal your information. Though, the system is built in a way that it should warn you of a script wanting to run itself as root.

Now.. you said the viruses were found on PlayOnLinux, which is a wine layer, which is a Windows layer itself. There you go, Windows -> Windows' executables, -> Windows viruses.

What ClamAv detected are Windows' viruses and not Linux viruses.

You are safe.

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    You are advised to delete/clean those directories though. Those viruses might steal your information if you insert passwords and other sensitive information on the programs you run on PlayOnLinux, from those directories. – David M. Sousa Feb 22 '15 at 13:52

It's not necessarily normal to have that many viruses, but they are all usually "Windows viruses" meaning they run via WINE and where installed with some program using WINE. These types of viruses are usually not too dangerous as they have limitations as to what they can actually do and they are not installed on your system, just your wine prefix.

What your results actually mean is that you should be more careful of what Windows programs you choose to install. WINE can run programs and it can run viruses.

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