British cyber security firm mi2g recently announced the results of a study that names Mac OS X one of the most secure online server operating systems in the world, alongside the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) family of Open Source systems. The study also showed that Linux is currently the most-breached online server OS.
The study was conducted by mi2g’s Intelligence Unit, which looked at the overall number of attacks against government and private sector online servers, as well as the percentage of successful attacks, for the month of January. Linux bore the brunt of 80 percent of the overall attacks, followed by Microsoft Windows at 12 percent and BSD and Mac OS X at 3 percent, together.
The total number of successful attacks, according to mi2g, was 17,074, of which Linux accounted for 13,654, Windows 2,005, and BSD and Mac OS X 555. Looking strictly at successful attacks against government servers, Linux comprised 57 percent of those, followed by Windows at 35 percent and BSD and Mac OS X at 0 percent, which the company notes is a first for that category.
mi2g also saw a stark contrast between January’s percentage of successful attacks against government servers and the situation six months ago, when Windows was at 51 percent and Linux suffered just 14 percent of the breaches. DK Matai, the company’s executive chairman, noted that “the swift adoption of Linux last year within the online government and non-government server community, coupled with inadequate training and knowledge of how to keep that environment secure when running vulnerable third party applications, has contributed to a consistently higher proportion of comprised Linux servers.”
Matai added: “Migration to Open Source can be fool’s gold without adequate training and understanding of the impact that third party applications can have on overall safety and security. Windows administrators deserve some credit for having consistently reduced the proportion of successful online hacker attacks, but the real credit has to go to the developers and administrators of BSD and Mac OS X for maintaining such an excellent track record.”
The company estimated that the overall economic damage from server attacks worldwide during January was somewhere between US$2.34 and $2.86 billion. 54.3 percent of all attacks were against micro businesses and home-based computers with always-on Internet access. 41 percent of the attacks were against small businesses with sales below $7 million, 3.5 percent were against companies with sales between $7 and $40 million, and 1.3 percent were against firms with sales in excess of $40 million. mi2g noted that the numbers exclude attacks caused by viruses, worms and Trojan Horses.