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The Annual US-CERT FUD Festival 152

Posted by Zonk
from the comparing-apples-and-pineapples dept.
Joe Barr writes "Joe Brockmeier and I have teamed up in a story on NewsForge to point out how the mainstream and trade press misrepresent the annual summary of vulnerabilities from US-CERT. They're doing it again this year to make it appear as if it is more secure than UNIX/Linux. Pamela Jones did a similar report at Groklaw over the weekend." From the article: "One figure represents the vulnerabilities found in Windows operating systems: XP, NT, 98, and so on. The other represents a total figure not just for Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, the BSDs, and Linux, but for a hundred different versions of Linux. The sum of all the unique vulnerabilities from all the Linux distros does not equate to the sum of vulnerabilities in any single Linux distro, and one could say the same about the various versions of Windows. That's why it is a completely meaningless exercise to discuss those totals as if they present an accurate picture of the relative security of Windows and Linux. " We've reported on the US-CERT list already this year. NewsForge is a sister site to Slashdot.org, both of whom are owned by OSTG.
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The Annual US-CERT FUD Festival

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  • Well.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Sheetrock (152993)
    The sum of all the unique vulnerabilities from all the Linux distros does not equate to the sum of vulnerabilities in any single Linux distro

    No, but it sounds like they're adding the vulnerabilities to represent Linux. Much as they're adding the unique Windows vulnerabilities to represent Windows.

    • Re:Well.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by theonlyholle (720311) on Friday January 06, 2006 @11:48AM (#14409279) Homepage
      But that's not the same - we're talking about basically one Windows product with its associated unique vulnerabilities, but when we talk about Linux distros, we talk about several different ones that have the *same* vulnerability counted multiple times because it exists in multiple distros. Just one look at the CERT list and you will see all the duplicates in there. And then of course, even if you remove the duplicates, you are still left with vulnerabilities that were only present in one distribution, but got counted against "Linux/Unix" although 99% of the distros were never affected.
      • Patch Time (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ndtechnologies (814381) on Friday January 06, 2006 @11:53AM (#14409325)
        Good point and I'd like to add, What about the time length between when vulnerabilities are found, and then patched? Surely, they thought about that. Linux and Unix can continue to have more "reported" vulnerabilities than Windows, but if they are patched faster than Windows, doesn't that count for something?
        • That really isn't the question at hand though. They released it to the public, it should have been patched up prior to release. That is what most complaints about Microsoft are about on here. If a Linux distro is released with the same amount of holes and they just patch them faster, they are still releasing unfinished software. that is just my 2 cents, wasn't attempting to troll
        • Yeah I'd be interested to see a metric of "bug days" per distribution/OS. If a bug goes unpatched for a day, that's 7 bug days. Maybe we could be nice and only count business days, but it's not like the virus writers are taking weekends off.

          Perhaps also there could be a factor for the seriousness of the bug. So for every day that a critical bug is unpatched, it's worth 14 days of a non-critical unpatched bug. Or something like that -- the factor is inherently arbitrary, but maybe we could agree on something
      • Re:Well.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by rubycodez (864176)
        heh, "several" Linux distros, there's over 90 of them!
      • You might be interested in this [slashdot.org] post of mine from the other day.
        Regards,
        Steve
    • Not true. (Score:4, Informative)

      by fireboy1919 (257783) <rustyp@@@freeshell...org> on Friday January 06, 2006 @12:17PM (#14409550) Homepage Journal
      They've got Apache vulnerabilities listed on the Linux side, but not on the Windows side - vulnerabilities that affected both places, I might add.

      This is true of most of the *nix vulnerabilities, actually.

      So what we're really seeing is Windows-only vulnerabilities being compared to ones that are OS neutral. Not that its very suprising, though. Its 2006.
      With the exception of software written specifically for Windows, most software is cross-platform.

      This is the only really meaningful way to do this kind of a report because of this characteristic. The important thing to keep in mind in that, though, is that Windows has all of its own vulnerabilities AND most of the others. :)
    • US-CERT on the fishing industries:

      CERT: You have 62,000,000 fish caught last year.
      Fishermen: No we don't. We have so many sardines, tuna, flounder, and what not.
      CERT: They are all fish aren't they?
      Fishermen: Yeah....
      CERT: So you have 62,000,000 fish caught last year.
    • From TFA: Microsoft wants you to read the headlines as "Windows 3X safer than Linux."

      Did anyone else read that as "Windows 3.X safer than Linux"? I immediately thought, "Yeah, that's probably right; it doesn't DO anything..."
  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Friday January 06, 2006 @11:40AM (#14409222)

    The act of contrasting the vulnerabilities found in the few Windows operating systems with the vulnerabilities found in hundreds of Linux/Unix is bad enough, but when you consider that the Unix/Linux list contains duplicate items, it becomes positively shameful.

    From the Groklaw article:
    Second, the Unix/Linux list duplicates items, counting a vulnerability more than once in the list. For an example, note that it lists Eric Raymond Fetchmail POP3 Client Buffer Overflow (Updated). However, the same vulnerability is listed, under the same title, four times. That's because it was reported in the week of August 10-15, again in the week of August 17-23, in September 6-13, and the week of November 9-16. Worse, for any comparison purposes, the same vulnerability is also reported as Fetchmail POP3 Client Buffer Overflow, so in reality one vulnerability is listed 5 times, making the total of 2328 meaningless unless you carefully comb through it to weed out duplications.


    I honestly expected better from the CERT [us-cert.gov] folks. I don't know why, but I really did.
    • I honestly expected better from the CERT folks. I don't know why, but I really did.

      Coming from the same government that denuded a slam dunk settled lawsuit against Microsoft? PuhLEASE!
    • by User 956 (568564) on Friday January 06, 2006 @11:55AM (#14409347) Homepage
      The act of contrasting the vulnerabilities found in the few Windows operating systems with the vulnerabilities found in hundreds of Linux/Unix is bad enough, but when you consider that the Unix/Linux list contains duplicate items, it becomes positively shameful.

      It looks like we both posted at the same time. At any rate, you have a point to a certain degree. My post here [slashdot.org] shows that if you go through the list and subtract out all the items with "updated" after them, Subtract OSX and Solaris, the Linux/Unix group category is about par with windows, not 3x worse.

      Whether "different" OSes should be lumped together is another discussion entirely (how "different" are they if they have the same kernel?)
      • by MyDixieWrecked (548719) on Friday January 06, 2006 @12:29PM (#14409643) Homepage Journal
        Whether "different" OSes should be lumped together is another discussion entirely (how "different" are they if they have the same kernel?)

        then you need to consider the fact that x86 linux has a different kernel than PPC linux. And what about all the people running 2.4.x versus 2.6.x versus everyone still running older versions, still?

        What about the fact that if a version of apache has some flaw that it [generally] affects the entire Apache installbase of that version. Whether it's BSD, Linux, OSX, Windows or BeOS. I say "generally" because some flaws may only affect x86 versions or PPC versions exclusively due to endian issues and ways that the kernels handle the stack and whatnot.

        There really is no fair way of gauging and quantifying the number of flaws found in computers per-OS unless you go by installation package. Make lists of XP, make lists of win2k, make lists for OSX (10.2, 10.3 and 10.4 as well as server), make a list for each distro and every installation type for each of the lastest couple of versions. Sure it's a lot of work... but at least it'll be more accurate.
        • I prefer my way. (Score:3, Informative)

          by khasim (1285)
          Simply evaluate each vulnerability in a simple hierarchy. When evaluating a distribution or a version of Windows, use only the apps installed by default.

          1. Remote--root access that does NOT require human intervention or other app running.

          2. Remote non-root access that does NOT require human intervention or other app running.

          3. Local root access that does NOT require human intervention or other app running.

          4. Local non-root access that does NOT require human intervention or other app running.

          5. Remote root a
          • This is a very good way to assess risk. A great way to build a threat matrix. A couple comments: I would add another qualification to your evaulation criteria. Has this bug been actively exploited and/or is exploit code (even proof of concept) available? So: A Level 1 or 2 would get immediate attention from me. I would drop what I was doing file an emergency ECN and then test and deploy the patch. Anything 3 or below would be updated during my next regular update cycle/maintence window (twice a month).
    • I would have expected better *if* CERT was still in the hands of a university. I wouldn't trust a government analysis as far as I could throw a CRAY.
    • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker&gmail,com> on Friday January 06, 2006 @12:12PM (#14409506) Journal
      Whats worse is the fact that a POP3 Client Buffer Overflow on Windows would not be included at all as one doesn't ship with Windows. Linux distros generally ship with thousands of clients and servers while Windows ships with the bare minimum. To do a true security comparion you would have to compare either just kernel exploits with OS exploits, then compare all popular software for windows with all popular software for Linux side by side in a catagory basis (POP3 clients being a catagory)
      • a POP3 Client Buffer Overflow on Windows would not be included at all as one doesn't ship with Windows.

        Outlook Express...
      • That's true but according to PJ at Groklaw third party products for Windows that had vulnerabilities were included in the Windows list.

        To be fair, the Windows list isn't really an accurate list of Windows vulnerabilities either, not the way I would think of it. It also has duplicative items, such as for Microsoft ASP.NET Canonicalization (Updated). And it includes Apple, F-Secure, IBM WebSphere, McAfee and other third-party vendor issues. If it can happen to you if you use Windows and the third party softwa
    • one vulnerability is listed 5 times, making the total of 2328 meaningless unless you carefully comb through it to weed out duplications.

      They could have cut it down to a more manageable list by piping it through "grep -vF '(Updated)' | sort -u".

      That brings it down to just 871, which is much easier to comb for further duplicates.

      The same process on Windows vulnerabilities brings it down from 831 to 659. Both lists still need to be checked for duplicates with different names (say, "Apache HTTP Request Smuggli
  • easier (Score:1, Funny)

    by Ragein (901507)
    Simply just find out who counted the numbers and steal all his personal data, give him an option on which os to leave it on (add 100mb and no firewall) and there u go simple answers from statisticians.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2006 @11:41AM (#14409234)
    It's equally unfair to lump Windows 98, NT, 2000, XP all together. They could be looked at as different "distros" of Windows. Should pick the best or latest OS from each group with the least vulnerabilities to compare.
    • In principle, you are right - but you will have to agree that lumping say 4 or 5 versions of Windows together is an order of magnitude less stupid than lumping say 100 distros of Linux, plus assorted flavors of Unix (including MacOS) together...
    • by MyDixieWrecked (548719) on Friday January 06, 2006 @12:22PM (#14409585) Homepage Journal
      It's equally unfair to lump Windows 98, NT, 2000, XP all together.

      well... you're half right. I'd say it's better to lump 95/98 together and NT/2000/XP together since most of the later versions of windows are pretty much the same thing on the inside...

      however, it's really unfair to quantify the vulnerabilities for any OS as a whole. There are so many facets of any computer system that many vulnerabilities don't affect most people.

      Saying that a exploit for Apache affects the entire linux/unix/osx install base is an unfair statement. Desktop linux users probably don't have apache running or a bug in X11/xorg won't affect most *nix servers. Likewise, a bug in MSSQL or web services won't directly affect most XP users, although a bug in explorer will affect nearly every windows user (who's running an affected version of explorer).

      You can't even really create lists of vulnerabilities that affect "server" versus "desktop" users, either, because just because something is a server doesn't mean they're necessarily running every server daemon they can.

      There needs to be a list of servertypes (ie: web, email, file, database, etc exclusively) showing not only the quantity of vulnerabilities but also the severity of said vulnerabilities. Perhaps even a table separating different applications.

      I mean, you shouldn't really lump every proftpd vulnerability with every other ftp server software. All it takes is one bad egg to poison the overal results.

    • by GuyverDH (232921) on Friday January 06, 2006 @12:24PM (#14409601)
      It's valid, and yet invalid - all rolled into one.

      No they aren't many different distros, only 2.

      Windows 1.x -> ME are all different versions of windows management systems based on MSDOS.

      Windows NT 3.x -> 2003 are all different versions of windows management systems based on NT.

      So only 2 distros, with lots of versions.

      Now Linux has had how many distros? I've read as high as 90, and no, I haven't done the research myself to come up with my own answer, but I know personally of at least 20.

      Add to that the BSD distros, of which I know of 3 personally.

      Then they lumped in 4 completely different Operating systems - not even distributions.
      AIX, Solaris, HP-UX and MacOSX - all of these are true UNIX operating systems - not the complete list by far - Tru-64, Centix, C-TIX, the pre-caldera UNIXWare, OpenServer, Xenix, UNIX, etc...

      Remember, Linux ISN'T UNIX. So why the hell would they lump them together. Here's why - it's the only way they could get the numbers to add up to anything close to a large margin above the count from the 2 distros of Windows.
      • Update...

        I did a little research, and according to www.distrowatch.com, there are 359 distinct Linux distributions (as of 1/6/2006)

      • Parsed the list a little better.

        350 Linux
        7 BSD
        1 Solaris
        1 HP-UX
        1 AIX
        ----
        360 Distinct Linux/UNIX Distributions/Variants

        With 6 times the bugs listed, divided by 360 that's only .016 bugs per distro, per bug in windows.

        Now factor that windows is 2 distros, that's .032 bugs per linux distro vs. 1 bug per windows distro.

        That appears to change the results a tad.

        For each bug found in Linux/Unix, there's 32 in Windows.
    • For the moment, I'm going to lump a response to this together with "Skewed, Oh yeah..." thread ( http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=173159&cid = 14409257 [slashdot.org] ) and say that it would be interesting to have a little better detail - for Windows and Linux both.

      For instance, Windows has 2 distinct kernel families, Win9X and WinNT. Linux has 1. Within each of these families there is then versioning, Win95, Win98, WinME, WinNT, Win2k, WinXP, 2.4, 2.6, etc.
      Beyond that, it appears that all Windows versions share
    • I would agree, but including OS/X and Solaris as "Linux" is equivalent to including all bugs in WINE and FreeDos as "Windows" bugs.
    • So divide the windows vulnerabilities by 5 and the linux ones by 400. But actually it won't really affect windows counts because the inflation of linux counts comes from different vendors announcing the problem at different times - something that won't happen with different versions of windows since they're all from MS.
  • Skewed? Oh yeah... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fak3r (917687) on Friday January 06, 2006 @11:45AM (#14409257) Homepage
    Considering Linux is a Kernel, to say there were 1000s of bugs again Linux is silly. Let's see how many were against the Linux kernel vs all the userland apps that don't touch anything system level. Now I'll admit bugs show up, and I think that's Open Source's strength; there's constantly ppl combing over the code finding f'd up stuff that no one would think to look at. This is only achieved through constant gazing at the source code, whereas with Windows a bug is usually found out after it's a vuln. Also, I'm happy that MS patched the issue so quickly, even if they were beaten to the punch, perhaps they'll take things (security) more seriously now that they're pushing 'trusted computing'. Not that I care that much, I'm sold on Linux, OS X on the desk and freeBSD on the server, but I did play with ReactOS the other night, and see a future for x-Windows folks who don't want to lose Windows compat when XP support goes away...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Considering Linux is a Kernel, to say there were 1000s of bugs again Linux is silly.

      It would be interesting to see all of the Windows application vendors lumped into the "Microsoft security flaws" category in a similar manner. I've seen quite a few Windows applications from all sorts of software vendors with issues this last year and noticed they weren't listed. While one might argue at first that this would be unfair because of all of the commercial products available for Windows, I'm not sure Windows woul
      • ...and I completely agree, Microsoft shouldn't be held accountable for crappy software produced by a third party causing issues; don't think I'm just defending Linux, this report is silly for everyone. Plus things like Gator can hardly be faulted to MS.
      • If you would have looked at the report [us-cert.gov] you would see there are non-ms products lumped in as Windows vuls (with Firefox being one of them)

        There is also more than 5 or 6 versioins Windwos. There were probably 6 versions of Windows 2000 alone counting the server lineup. They lumped in Linux/UNIX, but the total figure for it was also about 3 times higher (812 vs 2328) than the figure for windows.

        Also, while I am at it, I did a grep -i | wc -l for "Firefox" and "Internet Explorer" and found that there were 150 v

  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@HORSEop ... minus herbivore> on Friday January 06, 2006 @11:47AM (#14409268) Journal

    Shouldn't we be asking the more pertinent question: why do all the various operating systems have so many vulnerabilities? When it comes to such things, this shouldn't be a competition. OS builders should be striving for zero tolerance to vulnerabilities and there shouldn't be an quibbling over the number that exist.

    • by jdunn14 (455930) <jdunn@igTOKYOuanaworks.net minus city> on Friday January 06, 2006 @11:59AM (#14409394) Homepage
      That sounds great and all, but do you have any idea of the complexity, and therefore cost involved? Ever tried to debug something consisting of 10000 lines, let alone something the size of an OS? No bugs is just not realistic, and truly a better goal is to ensure that when bugs are found they have minimal impact (like ensure users aren't running as root) and patch them in reasonable time (days to weeks, not months to years).

      Now on the topic of this bug counting, if windows is lumped together then linux should be to some degree too, but on the same order of magnitude. A half dozen distros, maybe even mirror the windows counting a little more and make some of those distros be older but still supported ones. Also, the various unixes and linux are entirely different beasts. Just because they try and present a somewhat compatible user interface and APIs doesn't mean that they should be grouped into one object when counting bugs.
      • That sounds great and all, but do you have any idea of the complexity, and therefore cost involved? Ever tried to debug something consisting of 10000 lines, let alone something the size of an OS?

        Interestingly there was just an article about exceptionally low defect rates [slashdot.org] for software, with cases running from a mere 10,000 up to almost 200,000 SLOC, all done for very reasonable time frames and costs. That, of course, is still signficantly less than the complexity of, say, the entire Linux kernel - but then n
        • You are still talking about a shitload of work. I don't know how Praxis manages their low rate, and haven't read that article, but Praxis is a lone exception. Even OpenBSD, which audits its code almost continuously, has bugs.

          Software has bugs. It's a fact of life. It is hard to find them and even harder not to write them in the first place. Start writing software for the real world and you will see what I mean. The larger the code base, the more bugs you will get. The more complex the code base the more bug
          • I don't know how Praxis manages their low rate, and haven't read that article...

            Perhaps you should. You may well learn something useful. As you correctly point out,

            "The vast majority of bugs are instead misbehaviors. There is nothing wrong with the code, it just doesn't perform exactly in the manner expected in every circumstance. Often these bugs don't arise from the coding, but from the specifications or requirements."

            The techniques used by Praxis are specifically intended to address specification and

    • take a look at the vulnerabilities list before you get upset. here's one from the UNIX list :

      Clam Anti-Virus ClamAV Mac OS X Command Execution

      someone is going to need to explain to me why an error in A. an add-on antivirus software for B. Mac OS X is in any way a reflection on the quality of UNIX. almost all the vulnerabilities are apps like this, there are about 15 tacked onto the UNIX list that are just errors with acrobat reader. so now Linus is responsible for the quality of Adobe's software?

  • by User 956 (568564) on Friday January 06, 2006 @11:50AM (#14409305) Homepage
    Part of the contention is the repeat entries with the "updated" notation. So if you throw out all 141 "updated" occurrences in the Microsoft section, that leaves 671 (812-141=671).

    If you throw out all 1437 "updated" occurences in the linux/unix secion, that leaves 891 (2328-1437=891). Subtracting Apple OS X (130) and Sun Solaris (77), Linux/Unix ends up with 13 more vulnerabilities than Windows (891-130-77=684), but it's for more operating systems, so it may be fair to divide that 684 further.
    • So if I release ShitLinux(tm) and purposely put security holes in it, I can negatively affect every other Unix vendor (not just other Linux vendors, but Sun, Apple, ...), at least in terms of the US-CERT list?

      Great. Where's me phone? Ah.... "Hey Bill, how much are you willing to pay ..."
    • How about when you take the third party applications out of each list? For Windows, anything that doesn't ship with the OS. For Linux (tough, because distro's ship a lot of third party apps) you could remove applications that rarely, if ever, get installed by a typical end user distribution by default.

      Both numbers decrease significantly at this point.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Suckers ...

    But it is true, engage intellect and you can see at a glance how useless the figures are.

    - No ranking by severity levels, or weighting of overall score by severity
    - No individual OS scores

    I can't see how this 'report' is useful to anyone except marketing droids who work for Microsoft.
  • by pieterh (196118) on Friday January 06, 2006 @11:53AM (#14409327) Homepage
    They're doing it again this year to make it appear as if it is more secure than UNIX/Linux.

    What is "it"? Slight tinge of paranoia here, maybe?

    Let's review the score here:

      - It does not matter what material is published, the fact of the matter is that every Windows PC in the world regularly has visible and non-trivial security issues, while on Linux and OS/X these issues are generally theoretical.

      - People's perceptions of Windows are very simple: it's a piece of crap that they use because it came with the box and everyone else uses it.

      - The relative security of Windows vs. the World is not a deciding factor in most people's use of Windows. It's largely a captive, neutered market.

      - For people who actually do care, no amount of statistics can change the visible and perceived situation. When I choose to ban Windows in my company, it's not because I read some website or article. It's because I'm sick and tired of removing spyware from people's PCs.

    Complaining about these statistics is to give them credibility. Those who chose on the basis of security will ignore this data, and those who chose on other criteria won't care about this data.

    • People's perceptions of Windows are very simple: it's a piece of crap that they use because it came with the box and everyone else uses it.

      It could just be that everyone uses Windows because it is not such a piece of crap after all:

      Windows XP had 72% of the market in December. Up 1% from November 2005. Linux 3%. Up 1% since March 2003. OS Platform Stats [w3schools.com]

      This from a developer's site that shows very good numbers for Firefox.

      • Windows XP had 72% of the market in December. Up 1% from November 2005.

        That's because they're upgrading from older unsupported versions of Windows. People are using Windows (all varieties) not because they think is isn't crap, but mainly because they think crap is a normal and unavoidable attribute of operating systems.
  • by dpmccoy (935032) on Friday January 06, 2006 @11:53AM (#14409328)
    I'm an automation officer in the U.S. Army, and I know for a fact that we're full of Microsoft shills and contractors with Microsoft loyalties. We don't employ Unix/Linux in an enterprise manner; the government sold its soul to Microsoft years ago. Unix is used on some Army tactical platforms, though. Food for thought.
    • As opposed to other organizations who're full of F/OSS shills and Linux loyalists who've sold their souls to SourceForge? Oh, wait, sorry, I meant F/OSS supporters and Linux advocates.

      People REALLY need to watch what words they use. To many loaded sentences with words like "shill" tend to mark their speakers as fanatics, and do little more than cause others to discount their opinions accordingly. If you're going to convince people, do so with more facts and less rhetoric.

      Otherwise, as Lindsey said in Th

  • They both have duplicate vulnerabilities listed in their totals.
    It is also not a level playing field in the OS market.
    Once more people are using Linux, it will be a more fair comparison.
  • by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpc AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday January 06, 2006 @11:55AM (#14409355) Homepage
    Not intending to "karma whore" here, but look at the stats from an already done analysis:
    • 22 Technical Cyber Security Alerts were issued in 2005
      • 11 of those alerts were for Windows platforms
      • 3 were for Oracle products
      • 2 were for Cisco products
      • 1 was for Mac OS X
      • None were for Linux
      , and secondarily look at this quote
    • "Here's more of the same. US-CERT's list of current vulnerabilities contains a total of 11 vulnerabilities, six of which mention Windows by name, and none of which mentions Linux.

    Folks, as other /. posters have already discussed better than I can, most of the supposed Linux bugs are either duplicates or in user- space software. That would be akin to saying a Firefox browser vulnerability is a Windows OS security problem,as opposed to an underlying OS vulnerability that would affect any and all software on the platform.
    • That would be akin to saying a Firefox browser vulnerability is a Windows OS security problem

      You do realize that Firefox runs on Linux too, don't you? ;)

      Some part are Windows specific so some bugs could affect Windows only. But some other bug affect only Linux too, or any other OS that can run Firefox.

  • by vjmurphy (190266) on Friday January 06, 2006 @11:56AM (#14409369) Homepage
    Using the patent-pending method of determining worth by comparing terms plugged into Google, I get the following:

    Search for "Windows Bugs": 45,800
    Search for "Linux Bugs": 23,400
    Search for "Bunny Bugs": 31,100

    From this method, I can determine that I should NOT watch Looney Tunes cartoons on my Windows Media Center PC. Or drink while posting.
  • I've seen these numbers, and wonder what counts as a "Linux" vulnerability - does every little PHP bulletin board package that generates hundreds of bug reports a month on bugtraq count towards the total? All vulnerabilities aren't in the same class, although these numbers seem to lump them all together. Something like this WMF thing affects every machine running Windows. It's not like the Linux kernel, Apache, etc have bugs of this class. (Plus, most "little PHP bulletin board package" things for Windows a
  • Sure, everyone enjoys a good bitching contest but this is not helping.

    Formal request:
    Someone needs to count the vulnerabilities in:

    1) XP
    2) Minimal SUSE linux install
    3) XP with specific of Apps, servers, etc.
    4) SUSE linux with specific Apps, servers, etc.

    Give us these numbers and then we have something to talk about.
  • There's another debunking over at SecurityFocus [securityfocus.com]
  • Jack Ryan returns in 2006 for "The Sum of all FUD" : 27,000 fact stretched FUDs. One is misleading. CIA analyst Jack Ryan hunts down a group of US-CERTs who plan to announce a hawguash of FUD at the Superbowl.
  • FTA, there are 3 lists, Windows vulnerabilities, that count, from Iexplorer to Wheresjames camera software, incluiding Adobe...

    The "Unix", incluiding, AIX, Mac OSX, Solaris, Linux, Freebsd, and any thing that looks like unix...

    and Multiplataform vulnerabilities...

    The main issue, is the way they pack together all kind and from different vendors the Unix thing... Also, there are reported vulnerabilities about Adobe and isnt listed as multiplataform vulnerabilities...

    This article, DOESNT become a defacto FUD,
  • You can *make* Linux more secure by customizing it, and how you can't do that with Windows (any version)?
  • Can someone please explain what the second 'it' in the second sentence refers to?

    Joe Brockmeier and I have teamed up in a story on NewsForge to point out how the mainstream and trade press misrepresent the annual summary of vulnerabilities from US-CERT. They're doing it again this year to make it appear as if it is more secure than UNIX/Linux.


    If the intro isn't clear, why bother reading the article?
  • The mainstream press never differentiates the type of vulnerability. I would say that 1 remote root exploit is worth at least a 100 local root exploits, maybe more if there is no remote exploit for the system at all.

    The mainstream media does not get this. But, neither do most computer users.
  • Does nobody remember when everyone was gloating over how these numbers showed many more vulnerabilities on the Windows side than on the Linux side? All those years we yelled at Microsoft, asking them to get better on security...were we ever planning to be happy if they actually DID? The notion that their vulnerability count is declining on a yearly basis isn't all that mysterious; they've really been doing a lot of work, from coding practices to architecture (for example, Microsoft Security Center, "Micro
  • I've got fifty one dollar bills, all you have is two hundreds. I've clearly got more money than you. Shine my shoes.

    -SHP
  • Anyone who uses multiple platforms knows where he has to spend most of his maintenance and fixer-upper time. I spend almost no time on MacOSX keeping it running. I gave up on my WinXP and it simply doesn't connect to the Internet, and it now has no maintenance time either. Bo
    • I spend almost no time on MacOSX keeping it running. I gave up on my WinXP and it simply doesn't connect to the Internet, and it now has no maintenance time either. Bo

      Does that mean XP sucks?

      I have XP on the internet and have never had a single problem. Not one. I also spend "next to no time keeping it up and running". Maybe your story means you're an idiot more than it means XP sucks.

      Not knowing you, I can't say for sure. Just food for thought.

      This isn't flamebait or a troll or whatever.
  • This Is Good News! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mpapet (761907) on Friday January 06, 2006 @12:50PM (#14409807) Homepage
    Really, it is.

    Yeah the spin is ugly, but if the *nix's "stick to their knitting" this too shall pass.

    They do the same thing when they talk about Mac's too. The last time I saw figures (which was a couple of years ago) Apple was far and away the #1 shipper of laptops by brand. But, they would compare ALL laptops shipped by all brands to come up with Apple's "miniscule" market share.

    The reality was that Apple was creaming the Windows-based brands. They would do this with all of the various market segments apple competed in. Funny how they don't do it with MP3 players.

    OT Comment:
    I never understood why anyone who branded computers wanted their numbers in the market research. It just gives HP a target to destroy.
  • by Call Me Black Cloud (616282) on Friday January 06, 2006 @12:52PM (#14409822)

    The "article" is not an article but rather an opinion piece. For example:

    Microsoft wants you to read the headlines as "Windows 3X safer than Linux." (If Microsoft is being quiet about the US-CERT numbers, it's because the company is too busy trying to come up with a fix for the Windows Meta File (WMF) vulnerability.)

    The authors apparently know what Microsoft wants, even though they admit the company hasn't commented on the summary of vulnerabilities. I guess the authors assume the MS marketing department is working on this bug fix, which at the time the article was posted was fixed (but no patch had been released).

    Reading further, the authors reference the "Technical Cyber Security Alerts", saying, "That's quite a different picture than the one the Microsoft press machine wants you to see." Once again MS is referenced, even though they had nothing to do with the summary of vulnerabilities and have issued no press release on the matter.

    MS is mentioned twice though the company has not issued any press releases or new ads reflecting these numbers. On the other hand, the article repeatedly mentions the press:

    Everywhere you look in the trade press today, you'll find glowing misrepresentations...
    ...many scribes sympathetic to the Microsoft cause go out of their way to make sure the real picture never emerges...
    ...you'd think that the mainstream tech press could get it right when reporting on security...
    ...scribes in the trade press are once again playing the US-CERT FUD game...
    Shame on them for purposely -- or ignorantly, as the case may be -- misleading their readers.


    Yet in the links below the article there is only one direct link to an example of how the press has been misleading their readers.

    Guys, if you're going to write something, call it an article, then post it to Slashdot, at least try to be a little more objective. I think most people are tired of MS vs the world now...it's so last year (this year it's Google vs the world). People are interested in performance, ease of use, security - getting the job done. Who has time for these pissing matches?

    The piece does fit on a site named "NewsForge". Why report the news when you can manufacture it?
  • I don't care. I just know one thing. I'm not easily targetted. Vulnerabilities be damned -- I'm a minority [Linux] user and I don't suffer from the crap that Windows users do. Even if there were only 5 vulnerabilities in Windows and 5000 in Linux, at present, since I'm not being targetted, I'm still safer.
  • Joe Brockmeier and I have teamed up in a story on NewsForge to point out how the mainstream and trade press misrepresent the annual summary of vulnerabilities from US-CERT. They're doing it again this year to make it appear as if it is more secure than UNIX/Linux.

    "it is more secure than UNIX/Linux"? What is it? I guess it goes without saying? (Or should that be, it goes without saying?)
  • Joe Brockmeier and I have teamed up in a story on NewsForge to point out how the mainstream and trade press misrepresent the annual summary of vulnerabilities from US-CERT. They're doing it again this year to make it appear as if it is more secure than UNIX/Linux.

    I don't get it. Are they saying that US-CERT is more secure than UNIX/Linux? Or is 'it' referring to the mainstream and trade press?

    Come on guys. If you write this kind of stuff for a living, would it kill you to proofread?

    (Never mind that the w
  • "Joe Brockmeier and I have teamed up in a story on NewsForge to point out how the mainstream and trade press misrepresent the annual summary of vulnerabilities from US-CERT. They're doing it again this year to make it appear as if it is more secure than UNIX/Linux.

    What the @#$@# does this (bolded) it refer to? Did someone clip out a reference to Microsoft Windows? Please -- 5 minutes of proofreading?
  • This is absurd.

    If you don't tend to your garden, your vegetables may perish.

    If you don't take care of your herd, you cattle might fall ill.

    If you don't properly manager your systems, regardless of OS, your boxes might get compromised.

  • Some time back, I saw a speaker from US Cert at a data security conference put together by one of my coworkers. When the US Cert guy spoke, one of his first comments were that "US Cert" does not recommend that you use Firefox instead of IE. Our speaker did say that is what he used personally though. His explanation for this contrast was this: Homeland security is a part of the US Cert's goals and after the announcement to use an "alternative browser", Microsoft's stock went down a noticable amount. MS is a
  • How about Slashdot's own flamebait heading Linux/Unix Tops Charts for Vulnerabilities in 2005 [slashdot.org]. Which was based on a similarly inflammatory Information Week article "Linux/Unix Vulnerabilities Outnumber Microsoft Windows' 3 To 1", even though in the final paragraph, they mention how fucked the counting is. All goes to show that news sites, and Slashdot, can't resist running an obviously bogus story. Integrity? They've heard of it.
  • The number of known vulnerabilities isn't an accurate figure of merit for security anyway. So why bother complaining about the way vulnerabilites are counted?

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