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Windows vs Mac OS X vs Linux: Which is the most secured operating system?


What ever might be the operating system you are using, you need to be aware of the methods to counter malware and viruses. Malware is actually programmed to take advantage of particular exploit in a particular operating system. Malware coded for one operating system won't affect the other. For example, malware coded for windows machines won’t infect Mac OS X machines. Likewise, the virus that deletes driver files on Windows XP won’t affect Linux as the drivers for these two machines are totally different.

By this, we can say that the security of the computer depends on the operating system your are using on it. Everyone would like to have a secured operating system on the board but prefers what they know about well. What operating system is secured by the fact and what’s weak? Let’s see the contradiction among the most used operating systems in the world Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, that are believed to be secured than one another.

Exploring Security Vulnerabilities in Windows

Windows, after 95, 98 and 2000 editions of operating systems, truly tasted success with Windows XP only. The changeover it brought compared to its previous versions made XP Microsoft’s best product in early 2000’s. The simple user interface and capability of running on older systems made XP a lovable operating system for users.

Windows XP was not only the most lovable operating system but also a secured one. Security loop holes in previous versions are closed and enhanced the ability of handling certificate errors. The introduction of the Windows security center in XP service pack 2 made it easier to keep track of defensing status of the computer against malware and viruses.

Windows XP has got older now. The ten year old operating system has been hacked relentlessly over the years. The popularity of the operating system has become a choice for hacking as it was used by most of the computer users.. Thus, the most lovable operating system has become a vulnerability for itself. The security holes found in XP were declared non-patchable by Microsoft experts.

Meanwhile, Windows vista, which made its debut in while XP was still ruling the world, also received bad feedbacks as it was not compatible with the older systems like XP. The users of XP had found it difficult using vista with whole new interface and revamped operations. Adding to that, the graphical interface started to expose annoying bugs while using. Though some security features were fixed by then, vista couldn’t win the hearts of XP minded people.

The drastic failure of vista had inspired Microsoft to develop Windows 7 eliminating the bugs in it and providing a moderate support for older systems. Although, one couldn’t run Windows 7 on 512MB RAM systems which are very good at running XP. But Windows 7 offered wealthy new features, including features related to security.

For example, User Account Control(UAC) was introduced in vista and also continued in windows 7. When the UAC was first introduced, it was mocked in the media - Apple even made an advertisement about it. That’s an odd move because OS X has similar functionality, and because UAC is very important when it comes to security. It protects your PC by ensuring that programs cannot gain elevated access privilege to your system without permission. Prior to UAC, malware could easily do this without the user ever knowing the wiser.

Microsoft had made improvements to it and made windows notify every important security information to the user. The security center is revamped as Windows Action Center now. A windows user would notice it in the system tray with a flag icon showing the security updates and information from time to time.

Later, Microsoft introduced Windows 8 with whole new design again. This operating system was made more secure, closing the loop holes in Windows 7 and with revamped metro interface. This operating system is compatible with both the touch and non-touch screen devices making it a all-in-one operating system.

Windows Defender in Windows 8 is made a powerful security tool than in Windows 7. It protects the Windows 8 computer like anything. Defender is simply the best anti-malware and anti-virus tool one can have on their computers. Once you install Windows 8, you no need install third party antivirus software again. This shows Microsoft’s concern about security in the evolution of its operating systems to fight against secured operating systems like Mac and Linux.

Though Microsoft  is making their operating systems most secured from version to version, hackers have got a way with them in finding vulnerabilities.

Exploring Security Vulnerabilities in Mac OS X

Mac OS X was introduced in early 2000s i.e., before Windows XP was introduced. Apple made it so differently that a Windows user will definitely find it difficult to get customized to it, if switched. Apple focuses on big updates unlike Windows service pack updates. So far Apple came up with minor security updates in its later versions of Mac OS X after the primary release. This earned a reputation that OS X offers security far beyond windows.

Regarding security, there is no malware that could affect Mac OS X. After a close examination, it was found that OS X was exposed to less number of vulnerabilities compared to Windows, that too most of them from the internet.

Over the time Apple released more than 100 security patches for Mac OS which are a lot less than Windows. This doesn’t mean that Mac is not a secured operating system. This UNIX’s heritage operating system need root level authentication to make changes to files and programs thus making it a trusty OS on expensive Apple machines. Windows mocked this feature by introducing UAC which is not completely entertaining the purpose it was developed for.

However, an unfortunate number of users seem to believe that OS X is immune to security threats due to its relative obscurity. While there is a degree of truth to this, security threats for OS X computers do exist and can be just as damaging as those that target Windows. The security of Mac OS X is also hampered by a slim selection of security suites.

Exploring Security Vulnerabilities in Linux

Windows and Linux live at two opposite ends. A Linux computer is a alien machine to a Windows user. Linux machines won’t have friendly GUIs where as they have top priority in windows operating systems. So people who are customized to use windows computers can’t put hands on Linux.

But, Linux is more accessible now than it has ever been in the past. Free Linux operating systems like Ubuntu and Jolicloud offer a graphical user interface that is robust and provides a basic functionality of a PC.

Linux like Mac OS X need a authentication to change the root directory files and program settings. Linux also benefits greatly from security by the way of obscurity. The Linux user base is small and, to make matters worse for malware, the user base does not cling to a particular variant of Linux. Although the underlying code is often the same, there are subtle changes to different variants of Linux. Many advanced users code their own custom features on Linux. This makes attacking Linux users in-mass a difficult and also pointless proposition. If you’re looking to harvest credit card numbers, targeting Linux is not the way to go.

This doesn’t mean that Linux cannot be attacked. The desktop versions of Linux expose minor security vulnerabilities. But these vulnerabilities are not patched as quick as on Windows. However, Linux machines are attacked less frequently and these frequent attacks are minute and are negligible.

Conclusion

Incase of security, Mac OS X and Linux are best choices than Windows. According to the statistical information of security threats and exposed vulnerabilities, Windows operating system exhibits more weakness compared to Mac OS X and Linux. The reason why windows is vulnerable is because it is the most used operating system in the world and so hackers targeting it.

Windows computers have powerful anti-malware and antivirus tools inbuilt to protect in from potent attacks. So a windows user would be aware of security issues of the computer. Microsoft is working hard to push windows in those most secured operating system category. So Windows is not totally out of race by this point.

Whatever it may be, coming to the end of the jar, windows is yet a vulnerable OS that most hackers choose to target. Windows users are most likely to be impacted by security threats than Mac OS X and Linux till now.

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