Linux less secure than Windows?

The Seattle Times has reported on a study that suggests that Linux is less secure than Windows.  The test used a Windows 2003 Server machine and a Red Hat Enterprise
Server 3 machine, both of which were "running databases, scripting
engines and Web servers (Microsoft’s on one, the open source Apache on
the other)".  According to The Seattle Times –

SAN FRANCISCO — Believe it or not, a Windows Web server is more secure
than a similarly set-up Linux server, according to a study presented
yesterday by two Florida researchers.

The researchers, appearing at the RSA Conference of computer-security
professionals, discussed the findings in an event, "Security Showdown:
Windows vs. Linux." One of them, a Linux fan, runs an open-source
server at home; the other is a Microsoft enthusiast. They wanted to cut
through the near-religious arguments about which system is better from
a security standpoint.

"I actually was wrong. The results are very surprising, and
there are going to be some people who are skeptical," said Richard
Ford, a computer-science professor at the Florida Institute of
Technology who favors Linux.

VUNet also carried this story.  The tests were based on reported vulnerabilities in both systems as well as the time frames involved for the issuing of patches to remedy those vulnerabilities.  Sadly, the Linux machine was found to be lacking.

This should be the subject of some vigourous debate in both the Windows and Linux communities.  Slashdot carried this story too although not is as much detail.  I am not too sure what they think of this report though.  I imagine there are a host of factors which would influence an assessment of the relative security of Windows and Linux based systems in practice so while this study is interesting, you should probably do your homework when choosing your preferred platform for home or business.






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