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Open-source anti-virus -- the silent killer

By the time an open-source anti-virus developer finishes his doughnut, you'll be more infected than a teenager in an STI walk-in clinic

People recommend I use open-source software all the time. The Nate Lanxons of this world extol the virtues of Ubuntu and OpenOffice as if these apps were their own offspring. They tell me the programs are free, easily available and in many cases just as effective as their commercial counterparts.

For the most part, I agree -- except where security is concerned. The idea of entrusting the safety and integrity of my data to a piece of software cobbled together by spotty teenagers and smelly men who prioritise facial hair over bodily hygiene is extremely insulting to me. I'd rather hire a rabid pit-bull as a babysitter.

In my opinion, the open-source model simply doesn't work for something as fast-moving and potentially catastrophic as malware. Whereas commercial vendors such as Trend Micro and Symantec have hordes of software engineers in different time zones writing new signature files within minutes of a new virus appearing, Mr Open Source Developer is more likely to put it off until he's finished eating his doughnut and picking his nose. By that time, you're more infected than a teenager in an STI walk-in clinic.

Sure, Linux users aren't that likely to get viruses in the first place, but many Linux file and mail servers pump venom to the Windows boxes they service -- like carriers of a digital disease. And don't talk to me about heuristic scanning, because that's about as effective as a life raft made of cheesecake.

Linux versions of commercial anti-virus applications do exist, but I'm guessing nobody really uses them. Linux users are so deeply oblivious to the dangers of the common virus, and so averse to the concept of actually paying for software, that many simply won't bother.

Think of this as a wake-up call. If you're running Windows and decide to use open-source anti-virus programs such as Clam AntiVirus or ClamWin, you're an idiot. Plain and simple. If the predictions of some anti-virus companies (yes, they're biased, but I did say 'if' -- here's an argument against) come to fruition and Linux becomes targeted by virus makers en masse, the open-source community may not be there to save you. They'll be too busy coding themselves a virtual girifriend.