I like Windows a lot, but anti-virus is not 100%. If I switch to Firefox and
Linux, am I 100% virus proof for online banking, etc. or 99% proof? I’m using
the same computer in a dual-boot configuration and I’d be back to Windows after
logging out of banking.
In this excerpt from
Answercast #85, I look at the added security that can be added to online
banking by booting your computer into Linux.
Linux for banking
So there is no such thing as 100% virus proof on any platform. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
There are viruses for every possible platform that you are likely to use. Linux, Macintosh, and Windows. There are in fact viruses (and so forth) available for each.
Not popular enough for viruses
Now, 99% is actually not that bad a number. That is probably more accurate representation of something like Linux for the average home user; 99% or even 99.9% virus proof is probably what I would consider it.
That may change over time. If more and more people start using Linux, virus writers will say, “Hey, more and more people are using Linux. There’s an opportunity for us to start causing them trouble too.”
But right now, yes, it is pretty safe. And what you’re describing is in fact what many of the more stringent security-minded people actually recommend.
Dual boot into Linux
Either use a dual boot into a Linux system (the browser at that point doesn’t matter that much – Firefox is fine) and use that exclusively for online banking.
Boot from Live CD/DVD
Or, some go so far as to make sure you use a live CD or DVD – so you’re actually not using “dual boot.” You’re actually booting from optical media that can’t be written to.
What that means is that no matter what happens during your Linux session, it’s not saved.
So, if for some reason, there’s some kind of malware or security exploit that tries to install something on the Linux system – it can’t. As soon as you reboot, you’re back to Windows – and as soon as you reboot again from the DVD, the DVD wasn’t altered by whatever malware tried to do.
Like I said, it’s not likely; it’s not common. I do know that many people do recommend using Linux (or simply booting into Linux temporarily) for online banking.
Banking on Windows
Now, full disclosure: I don’t do that. I actually do my online banking from my Windows machine.
I run Windows 7; I have Microsoft Security Essentials as my anti-malware tool – and I have experience in making sure to avoid things that should be avoided: the places that are likely to get malware.
In reality, that’s my recommendation in general.
Is it 100%? Absolutely not – nothing is. Is it 99%? Probably pretty close. It’s certainly not 99.9%. It’s not as safe, as secure as the reboot into Linux scenario – but in my opinion and in my experience, it’s secure enough.
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)
Next from Answercast 85 – Do I need these 32-bit updates listed for applications I’m running in my 64-bit edition of Windows?