Security Comparison: Windows vs Linux

Much ado has been made about whether or not Linux is truly more secure than Windows. This article provides some tips and hints about the same.

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We compared Windows vs. Linux by examining the following metrics in the 40 most recent patches/vulnerabilities listed for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 vs. Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS v.3:

1. The severity of security vulnerabilities, derived from the following metrics:
1.1 damage potential (how much damage is possible?)
1.2. exploitation potential (how easy is it to exploit?)
1.3. exposure potential (what kind of access is necessary to exploit the vulnerability?)
2. The number of critically severe vulnerabilities

The results were not unexpected. Even by Microsoft’s subjective and flawed standards, fully 38% of the most recent patches address flaws that Microsoft ranks as Critical. Only 10% of Red Hat’s patches and alerts address flaws of Critical severity. These results are easily demonstrated to be generous to Microsoft and arguably harsh with Red Hat, since the above results are based on Microsoft’s ratings rather than our more stringent application of the security metrics. If we were to apply our own metrics, it would increase the number of Critical flaws in Windows Server 2003 to 50%.

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