The Linux Advantage

Filed under: Hybrid NVRs, Cybersecurity

As a product manager, I regularly meet with, and present to, customers and partners. Since these meetings often require communicating clearly in as few words as possible, I typically use key words or phrases to convey a breadth of information in a brief amount of time. My assumption is that the people I’m speaking to already understand the underlying content, and I am just making a reference to remind them of this information.

During a recent training session, I used the term ‘The Linux Advantage’ in my presentation. One person asked me to define what ‘The Linux Advantage’ actually is. Ever the politician, instead of just answering the question, I asked the audience for their definitions. I received the typical feedback: more secure, more virus resistant, etc. This is an excellent start, and arguably one of the most important factors in any enterprise video surveillance deployment. However, the advantages of choosing a Linux operating system go farther than this.

1. Linux is more secure.

The debate over operating system (OS) security is both complicated and typically takes on a certain intensity depending on your perspective. Regardless of your position, there are several key factors that improve the security of Linux:

  • More eyes equal less exploits. The concept here is that the large developer pool working with Linux’s open source OS code results in a higher likelihood that any security loopholes will be caught faster.
  • Less opportunity for users to have ‘root’ privileges, providing tighter control over what an application has access to, and the impact it can have on the system. This tighter control makes it more difficult for malicious software to gain access to key systems.
  • Whether through luck or design, there are fewer people targeting the Linux OS with viruses. According to Dr. Nic Peeling and Dr. Julian Satchell in the Analysis of the Impact of Open Source Software, there are about 60,000 viruses known for Windows, 40 or so for Apple’s iOS, about five for commercial UNIX OS versions and perhaps 40 for Linux.

2. The Linux OS kernel is open source and proprietary.

Taking an open source OS and then owning the creation and distribution of the OS kernel (the central part of the Linux OS) provides several key benefits:

  • The removal of unnecessary services (e.g. email, web browsers and social media apps) adds additional protection and reduces the services that are available for attack in Linux by malicious software.
  • In addition, the removal of unwanted services leads to a smaller kernel size. Since the kernel is stored within non-volatile flash ram, rather than on a spinning disk, the reduced size means the flash memory can be smaller, resulting in reduced unit costs (which can be passed on to customers).
  • Removing non-critical modules leads to a reduced number of code paths within the application. Not only does this decrease the total volume of the code, but it also contributes to a reduction in the volume of interactions between modules. Removal of code results in fewer areas where defects can be introduced, leading to enhanced reliability.
  • All non-essential network ports can be/are removed or locked.

3. The Linux OS is not dependent on third-party drivers or security updates.

  • By developing a custom OS kernel, developers (like ours here at March Networks) can take direct control over device drivers, updates and patches. There is no reliance on fixes coming from third-parties, and there is no possibility that an auto-applied system update will have a negative impact on the system.

A quick online search will provide you with plenty of additional resources focused on the security and reliability of operating systems. For example, Why Linux Is More Secure Than Windows.

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