How secure and private are PCs?
As I’m sure you’ve heard, PC’s (personal computers) were developed back in the 70’s. The goal at that time was to give computers as much power as possible for the user programs. Since there was no Internet and little networking at the time, security was not the focus of development.
Therefore, the security model of today’s PCs is still quite patchy and offers attackers many vulnerabilities in the hardware and operating system. That’s why some security experts recommend not using PCs anymore.
“If you can, stay away from the PC and use a mobile device.” madaidan (Security Researcher) Articles | Madaidan’s Insecurities
Market shares of the operating systems
How do the major PC operating systems share the market? According to Statista 07/2022 work:
The figures show that the user of a Windows or Apple PC may faces more potential threats than a Linux user.
What about security and privacy?
Microsoft and Apple have noticeably improved the security of their operating systems in recent years. If you use Windows 11 today, for example, preferably in S-mode on a Secured Core PC, or macOS on a MacBook from the M1 generation onwards, both manufacturers now also offer proactive security features such as :
the mitigation of as yet undetected security vulnerabilities (exploits),
the verified start of the operating system (Secure Boot),
the sandboxing of apps and
the use of memory-safe programming languages
However, both systems also send insights about their users and their usage back to their “builders” by default. They then use our data for their own analyses, possibly sell it on to data traders and share it unfiltered, e.g. with the American government (NSA / PRISM program).
With both systems, security can be further improved and the extreme extent of data collection reduced… but unfortunately not eliminated.
A “secure” and trustworthy system is the basis for all other security measures, such as Encryption or low-trace web surfing. Mike Kuketz
Linux or mainstream?
Those who want to protect their privacy can switch to an open-source, free and trusted operating system like Linux. Especially the distributions like Ubunto and Linux Mint are well suited for beginners. They are compatible with almost any PC, are easy to install and offer you anonymity, privacy and the freedom to decide for yourself. These systems are maintained and updated daily by a huge community of volunteers worldwide. Detected security holes are “fixed” almost every hour and can protect your computer via automated updates.
Linux is ahead of the game when it comes to your privacy, trustworthiness, auditability, and freedom in customization.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that Linux is a secure operating system per se. If you place a lot of value on IT security due to your “threat situation”, I recommend using Windows 11 on a Secured PC or macOS on a MaxBook Pro from the M1 class. The modern and proactive security standards present there do not exist on a standard Linux PC today.
However, whether your PC can then be “bugged” by investigating authorities or whether cyber criminals succeed in stealing your identity also depends on the following factors, among others:
- of your threat situation
Who is interested in you and your data?
What means and determination will a potential attacker use?
- your IT experience, time and budget
- your discipline and daily form-dependent attention at work on the PC