The Channel logo


By | Gavin Clarke 5th January 2006 09:41

Windows beats Linux - Unix on vulnerabilities - CERT

Good news and bad news

It might not feel like it, but Windows suffered fewer security vulnerabilities than Linux and Unix during 2005.

Linux and Unix experienced more than three times as many reported security vulnerabilities than Windows, according to the mighty US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) annual year-end security index.

Windows experienced 812 reported operating system vulnerabilities for the period between January and December 2005, compared to 2,328 for Linux and Unix.

CERT found more than 500 multiple vendor vulnerabilities in Linux and Unix spanning old favorites such as denial of service and buffer overflows, while CERT recorded 88 Windows-specific holes and 44 in Internet Explorer (IE). For a complete list of vulnerabilities, you can visit the CERT site here.

The annual poll does not include the Windows MetaFile (WMF) vulnerability, which has become the most widely reported attack on Windows according to security and antivirus specialist McAfee since being reported on December 28.

News of Windows' relative security will prove little comfort to millions of computer users now bracing for the latest attack of the Sober worm variant due this week.

CERT's data underlines the scale of the challenge faced by Microsoft on security, four years into the company's highly publicized Trusted Computing initiative.

Despite posting fewer vulnerabilities than its Unix and Linux challengers and Microsoft going out its way to talk up its "progress" in security in 2005, it is attacks on Windows that still cause more concern and generate most headlines.

The reason is that, unlike Linux, Windows has greater potential to cause harm because of its presence on desktops in the hands of users who receive self-propagating worms, click on email attachments and download malicious code. And while it seems just as each hole is fixed, a new vulnerability is unlocked elsewhere in the vast Windows code base.®

alert Send corrections


Frank Jennings

What do you do? Use manual typwriters or live in a Scottish croft? Our man advises
A rusty petrol pump at an abandoned gas station. Pic by Silvia B. Jakiello via shutterstock

Trevor Pott

Among other things, Active Directory needs an overhaul
Baby looks taken aback/shocked/affronted. Photo by Shutterstock

Kat Hall

Plans for 2 million FTTP connections in next four years 'not enough'
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella


Suit-and-tie-wearing man tries to meditate, take deep breaths in faux yoga pose. Photo by Shutterstock
Emotional intelligence, not tech skills, is the way to woo suits
League of gentlemen poster - Tubbs and Edward at the local shop. Copyright BBC
One reselling man tells his tale of woe