I’ve been smug about it for years now. No, smug doesn’t really cover it. “Haughty” might be a closer match. Now there’s an old school word: Haughty. It was used in a time when every other sentence didn’t contain a hyperbolic term or a phrase.
“Man, that movie was awesome!”
No, that movie wasn’t awesome. It might have been extremely entertaining or thought-provoking, but it wasn’t awesome. The overwhelming swell within you when you first see the Milky Way out in the middle of nowhere with no light pollution, that is awesome. An F5 tornado rending a human body part down to slimy, unrecognizable DNA, now that’s awesome. Watching Jupiter take one for the home team here on earth, thusly avoiding an extinction-level event, that was awesome. Awesome is when you have no words or ability to say words.That’s what awesome is
Regardless of how I parse it, the fact is that as a Linux user, I felt just a wee bit sorry for my Windows brethren and probably a wee bit superior. All that chugging and churning their computers went through several times a week while their antivirus software brought their machines to their knees….
Not me. I’m a Linux user.
And then we took the huge one-two punch from Shellshock and Heartbleed. Wow. While I do not run servers of any flavor, the fact that a Linux server or code could be infected by either of these nasty brothers….
I took note.
But what to do and where to go? The first thing I did was query my peers. Their answers ran from complete denial to meaningful dialog. Of course, the first thing many recommended was ClamAV. I accentuated “recommended” because they didn’t actually use it themselves. It’s just what they knew to run on Linux.
So armed with some information and just as much misinformation, I set out to study the options open to us Linux users. I mean, in my heart of hearts, I didn’t think that virus and malware threats are near as prevalent on Linux as they are on Windows, but it turns out that several antivirus companies did not agree, to the point that they created antivirus programs for Linux too. And just about the time I began to despair at the number of choices I had and the amount of research that would be necessary to get the best protection available, it came to me….
Mike Jester is a long-time friend. We served in the Army and ran into each other in a lot of the different places the Army decides to send people. The “are you following me” jokes got old after the second time, but aside from the fact that he was an old war horse, he also worked as a maintenance engineer on the Hoover Dam and his entire office ran both desktop and server Linux.
If anyone would know, it would be Mike Jester. And sure as sugar is sweet, Jester didn’t hesitate for a moment.
“Don’t screw around. Just install Avast for Linux. It found stuff ClamAV, Sophos and Kaspersky did not.”
Mike’s word was good enough for me. As I opened up the GUI (or just “avast” at terminal) the program took off in what I thought would be a fruitless search. It used surprisingly few system resources and by the file names flying by, it seemed to be pretty thorough. I got up, fixed some lunch and then returned to my monitor. Uh oh…what’s that red blinking thing in my panel. OMG!
So, ignoring the reflex of jumping up and running around in circles and setting my hair on fire with my arms flailing in the air, I found the file path and looked at it. Hmm… It was an ico file, a file which was part of a free and open icon library. Let’s dig this bad boy out and see what we have…virus indeed.
Now I know that virus programs are not 100 percent accurate and often can throw out false positives, but this has me baffled. No, not like the exhaust baffles of my 1970 Kawasaki Mach III that almost killed me a number of times…. I’m talking about being confused. Most often, back when I lived in the world of Windows, a false positive would happen every now and then within .zip or .rar files and those files, as often as not, were indeed infected but they were either MP3s or other larger files or videos within the compressed file. But not in silly little 4.2kb icon files. And by the way if you want to inspect the silly little 4.2kb ico file, you can download it here.
So riddle me this BatGeeks. Did the outbreak of the aforementioned viruses prompt you to use antivirus applications? Or have you used one all along? Or are you still going commando, as it were?
I’d like to know, as would most of the people reading this. Tell us where you stand on this matter.
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Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue