Linux malware hit a new high in 2022

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Tae Mi)

Linux might be enjoying a boost as more and more devices get powered by the operating system, but with popularity also inevitably come crooks, with new reports claiming the number of malware targeting the software skyrocketing in 2022. 

Findings from Atlas VPN based on data from threat intelligence platform AV-ATLAS, claims that in 2022 there were 1.9 million new Linux malware threats, bringing the figure up 50% year-on-year.

Most of the new Linux malware samples were discovered in the first three months of the year, the report further claims.

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Secure operating system

In Q1 2022, researchers discovered 854,690 new strains. In Q2, the number dropped by 3%, with 833,065 new strains detected. 

Malware developers for Linux must have taken a sabbatical in the third quarter of the year, as the number of new detections plummeted 91%, to 75,841. In the fourth quarter of the year, the figures picked up once again, growing by 117% to 164,697.

Despite these findings, Linux is still a “highly secure operating system”, the researchers say.

“The open-source nature of Linux allows for constant review by the tech community, leading to fewer exploitable security vulnerabilities. Additionally, Linux limits administrative privileges for users and compared to more widely used operating systems like Windows, it still has less malware targeting it.”

But crooks will not stop hunting for vulnerabilities in the world’s fifth most popular operating system, and businesses and consumers alike should always be on the lookout, the researchers concluded.

Linux might not be as popular as Windows, or macOS, but it’s a widely used operating system. From Android devices (which are built on Linux), to Chromebooks, video cameras, wearable devices, to all kinds of servers (web servers, database servers, email servers, etc.) there are more than 32 million endpoints running on Linux. 

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.