It’s getting more difficult these days to surf the web securely even with the latest operating systems (OS) and applications that are fully patch and running the most up-to-date anti-malware programs. The bad guys are constantly using existing exploits and creating new ones.
By reducing the attack surface (e.g. running fewer programs and services) and locking down the OS you can make it hard for an attacker to be able to exploit weaknesses (e.g. exploits, misconfiguration, etc.) on your computer. This is often referred to as “hardening the system”. These types of systems are not impenetrable they’re just very difficult to compromise.
Most attackers will go after easiest exploitable targets first, also known as the “low hanging fruit”. Windows, Macintosh, and Linux are all great operating systems. All current versions of these OS are far more secure than previous versions.
Since Linux currently has a smaller market share it is not attacked as aggressively as Windows and more recently the Macintosh. This will change over time as its gains popularity and its market share increases.
The question is can you surf the web securely? The answer could be using a Linux Virtual Machine, or possibly Google’s new Chromebook laptop. Both of these solutions have their advantages and disadvantages, but what’s important to find out is which solution is right for you.
Using Linux VMs
One solution is to create a Linux Virtual Machines (VMs), running a non-administrator account to prevent your system from being infected. In theory if the VM gets infected you can just destroy it and build another one.
This solution can be setup using Hyper-V, Citrix, VirtualBox, or any other hypervisor or VM software that you want to use. This is not a perfect solution for everyone, because it does require some technical knowledge to setup it up properly. This solution also requires a computer that has enough system resources (e.g. CPU, RAM, hard drive space, etc.) to support running a VM with a full operating system. (Note: a computer like a Netbook might not have enough systems resources to run this type of software)
With a device like the Chromebook running the Chrome OS in theory, you can surf the web more securely then most platforms, such as Windows, Macintosh OS X, or Linux. Even though the Chrome OS is based on Linux there are security features built-in to it, to make it very difficult to be compromised.
Some of the major security features of the Chrome OS are:
Before buying a device like the Chromebook make sure that you can live with the constraints that a system like this has to offer. It’s dependent on an Internet connection to be useable. If all you want to do is surf the web, watch videos online, etc. this might be a great solution for you.
More information: http://www.google.com/chromebook/
(Read part 2 of this article)