Monday, December 16, 2013

Gigastrand OS: On Security

A quick disclaimer: Comments made in this post on Microsoft Windows as comparison/contrast to the Gigastrand OS for the purpose of educating the reader on computer OS security that may be misconstrued as a disparagement on Microsoft, Windows, or its users. It is not the intent of the author or Gigastrand International to make any such disparagements on these entities. 

"Gigastrand OS is a self-supporting PC operating system designed with superior cross-platform compatibility but is safer and less expensive to operate than other systems."

What exactly does it mean that an OS is safer? Well, for a start, it isn't Microsoft Windows which, historically, has a disastrous track record for PC security. There are many reasons for this - many of which are outside of Microsoft's control.

So why is Windows that much less secure than any other operating system in the world? 

Well, for a start, it is a big target. Let's say you could write a program to attack any computing device in the world. In the PC world, Windows is still the dominant desktop and laptop operating system. If you were aiming to make as big an impact as possible, Windows PCs are a good place to start.

Second, it is a relatively easy target to exploit. Windows has improved vastly over time in regards to vulnerabilities that could be exploited by virus programs in no small part to the efforts of Microsoft, however, its users often install spyware and malware on their computers in the pursuit of free software. In other words, users are installing virus-like programs willingly without knowing it to accomplish a specific task.

Third, programming for Windows is expensive. Far more than other OSes. So, good software tends to cost money which makes users tend to pursue, download, and install free software alternatives from less than trustworthy websites. This, of course, really has nothing to do with Windows at all. It is more about human nature than software faults.

Finally, Windows software tends to be closed-source. While there is nothing inherently wrong with closed-source software, it does not allow the review by programming peers that open source software does. Fewer eyes on the code, means fewer things get fixed in a timely manner. I could go on about the benefits of open source software (OSS) but that is a whole other blog. 

OK. What makes Gigastrand OS security that much better?

Gigastrand OS is a smaller target. Dropping a stone into a puddle doesn't really have the effect of an asteroid dropping into the ocean. Often fewer users affected makes it not worth the time of someone looking to make headlines with their latest exploit.

Gigastrand OS does not run Windows programs natively. Therefore, Gigastrand OS is not affected by Windows-based malicious software. You can run some Windows software using the Windows compatibility layer or inside a Windows Virtual Box but if you break that part of the OS, you do not break the entire computer.

Gigastrand OS also has a package manager (think App Store) that you can search for free and guaranteed safe programs to install on your computer.

Gigastrand OS is less expensive all around. Much of the software available in Gigastrand OS is free and all programs from the package manager is free from malicious software.

Gigastrand OS is built primarily on open-source software. While some programs we include are closed source, much of the OS and its programs are open source.

What, if anything, am I still vulnerable to?

No security is absolute and while Gigastrand OS has much better security than some other OSes, ultimately, your security is only as good as your password and the security of the institutions you trust with your data. Phishing scams, spam, e-mail scams, and password hacking of large institutions are all things that users of ANY operating system can still be susceptible to. Using common-sense safe computing practices will help you stay safe.


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