Alan in Ackerman, Mississippi listens on SuperTalk FM and asked:
With the current e-mail scare of people hacking into your accounts, what is the best way to secure yourself on a linux OS?
There’s really not that much for you to do, Linux is a pretty secure OS as long as you have a strong passwords and don’t use a root superuser as you main user.
Linux is Unix based and has used a pretty strong privilege system from the start, so not only is it far less likely to be attacked by malware since Linux is a smaller target and bad guys will likely try to attack Windows first for the numbers, but also if they do and you’re not running a superuser, they’re limited in what they can do.
If you’re worried about hacked accounts though, your biggest risk is probably outside your computer itself. Most stolen passwords are not gotten through sophisticated hacking into servers or anything like you see in the movies, they’re just stolen by tricking a user into typing into a website that mimics a legitimate one.
So if you want to protect yourself from having your accounts hacked, be careful not to click on anything that looks like it could be a phishing email, use strong, hard to guess passwords, and make sure the recovery questions you use for websites are not questions everyone would have the answer to, like “what’s your pet’s name?” when you been plastering Facebook or Twitter with pictures of your cat with the text “look at Mittens! he’s so cute,” or “what city were you born in?” when Facebook says “Alan lives in Ackerman, he went to Ackerman Highschool, he works at Ackerman Hospital, here’s a picture of him as a child at Ackerman Playpen” and so on.
Linux probably won’t be the weakest link in the chain, the threats will probably target you more than your operating system, so make sure you’re careful when you interact with the outside world.
If you want to make sure your operating system is as safe it can be, stay updated to the latest version of your distribution of choice, use strong password, and make your day to day user one with limited privileges.
Most Linux users don’t bother with this, but you can also install something like the Sophos antivirus, it’s free and it’s another layer of security.
When it comes to strong passwords, most security experts are now recommending a passphrase. A collection of three unrelated words, say for instance “AppleSparrowDriveway,” has been determined to be stronger even than a random collection of letters and numbers, and a darn sight easier to remember. You can capitalize letters as needed and add non-alphabetic characters as well, but the passphrase is the new strong password.
And, in case we didn’t make it plain enough, we’ll just wrap up by saying that you’ve already made yourself quite secure from any hacks, just by running Linux. Rest easy!