The 5 Best Antivirus for Linux
If you research antivirus for Linux online, you’ll find plenty of articles telling you that you don’t really need it. However, you’ll probably find just as many articles telling you that you do.
If you run Linux at home, its probably fair to assume that you’re something of a technical enthusiast. Despite some significant leaps in ease-of-use over the years, configuring Linux effectively still involves occasional work at the command line that’s not for the fainthearted. As such, as a Linux user, you probably already have an idea as to whether you consider Linux antivirus to be essential or not.
While it’s true and fair to say that there aren’t a vast number of Linux viruses “in the wild,” there are still several valid arguments for the need for a Linux antivirus product:
1. If you run Linux on a network shared with Windows PCs, the Linux workstations can still act as “carriers” and pass threats on to the Windows machines.
2. If you run Linux to host files or mail, you’ll want to ensure these are kept virus free.
3. Many modern Internet threats are not traditional viruses at all. It’s worth considering how a Linux machine will deal with Spyware, phishing attempts and Trojans.
Many of the mainstream Internet security vendors offer something for Linux users, but how much effort they put into it varies considerably. For example, avast! offer a Linux antivirus product, but it’s hidden away deep within their website and appears to lack much support. As such, it hasn’t made it into this roundup.
The five products that have mad this top five vary considerably. One relies entirely on command-line use unless you install an optional front-end. Another is focussed on business use, but may still prove useful if you host home servers or use Linux for other computer enthusiast pursuits.
In forming this list, we’ve chosen products that are well thought of online and offer well-conceived features. However, the products vary considerably in operation, and deserve a detailed look to ensure you choose the one that fits best with the way you use your Linux systems.
Winner – eSet NOD32 Antivirus 4 for Linux
Positives: Fully featured antivirus and antispyware
Negatives: Annual cost may bother Linux users who are used to free open-source software
eSet NOD32 for Linux makes it to the top of our roundup because it’s a proper, fully featured antivirus product for consumer Linux users.
The product includes antivirus, antispyware and identity protection, and detects Windows and Mac viruses, thus preventing your Linux box(es) becoming carriers of these viruses.
Best of all, it had a user-friendly GUI, and is the least intimidating product to work with thanks to decent installation and configuration guides.
The Linux version of NOD32 also uses the same “ThreatSense” database as eSet’s Windows product, which performed well in our real life tests and caught all the threats we threw at it. Highly recommended.
2. Bitdefender Antivirus Scanner for Unices
Positives: Email scanning
Negatives: Available for a minimum of five users
Bitdefender state online that the “myth that (Linux) is immune to virus attack is completely false.” Their product is compatible with a wide range of Linux distributions, as well as FreeBSD.
As with the eSet product described above, Bitdefender also detects Windows viruses, and has the ability to directly access Windows-format partitions.
Bitdefender Antivirus Scanner has a friendly graphical user interface, so is good for those users after something that keeps them from the command line. Furthermore, it includes mailbox scanning and support for archive files.
There’s not much to choose between eSet and Bitdefender, but the former claims top position due to Bitdefender’s decision to make this product only available in packs containing five of more licences – not ideal for someone with a single Linux machine.
3. Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Linux
Positives: Compatible with a large variety of Linux “flavours”
Negatives: Perhaps too business-focussed for some
Kaspersky’s Linux product range is very much business focussed. Alongside the “endpoint” product we discuss here, Kaspersky also have dedicated products for Linux fileservers and Linux mailservers.
Endpoint Security for Linux is designed much like a corporate Windows antivirus product, with things like centralised deployment features for multiple machines. Much of this may be superfluous to the user of a simple Linux desktop, but the features could attract enthusiasts with multiple machines.
Compatibility is good: Kaspersky supports various Linux flavours, including Ubuntu, Suse and Redhat, although it’s important to note that Mandriva is the only 32-bit Linux OS supported.
Above all, it’s clear from Kaspersky’s website that they have a current and active Linux range that is more than just an afterthought. This may be the perfect choice for those who take their Linux computing seriously – but is perhaps overkill for more casual users.
4. AVG Antivirus Free for Linux
Positives: Costs nothing
Negatives: Installation gets rather technical
AVG are well-known for providing free antivirus for Windows PCs, but they also offer a Linux product.
The product claims to offer protection for “surfing, emailing and social networking” but information as to what it actually does is a little thin on the ground.
Installation is hardcore command-line stuff too. It probably won’t phase the average Linux user, but does still mean choosing the correct download from a list of five, and then following some rather daunting-sounding instructions.
Still, it’s free, which the previous products on our round-up are not. And for many Linux users used to open-source software, that will be enough to make AVG the product of choice.
Positives: Completely open-source
Negatives: Command line only without adding a third-party front-end
ClamAV is the stalwart antivirus product for Linux, and the “de facto standard” for Linux mail servers.
For real Linux enthusiasts this is a natural choice, and it is a completely open-source program. However, it’s not for the faint-hearted. It’s entirely command-line based, and the documentation alone would have a technophobe running a mile.
There are, however, front-end graphical user interfaces users can download to make the software rather more friendly, including AVScan and ClamTk. Technical skill is still required to get these up and running, but the average Linux user would probably cope just fine.