Windows 98 More Secure Than Linux!

Fake News written by Bernhard Rosenkraenzer on Monday, November 8, 1999

from the that-headline-got-your-attention dept.

REDMOND, WA -- Earlier today Microsoft published the results of a test conducted by an independent company, Mindcraft. In this test, the security of Linux and Windows 98 were measured by allowing 100 hand-picked hackers to try and breach the system. The results? Well, it depends on where you look.

The "Linux Myths" section of Microsoft's website contains the headline, "Don't Bet Your Life On Linux -- Unbiased Tests Prove Windows 98 Is More Secure". They quote a Mindcraft employee as saying, "...Linux... sucks."

But, the "Freedom To Innovate" section tells a different story. The headline: "Linux Is More Secure Than Windows, Test Shows... Look, Judge Jackson, We Have Competition!" They quote the same Mindcraft employee as saying, "Compared with Linux, Windows sucks."

Thanks to the diligent efforts of our Vast Spy Network(tm), which never ceases to amaze us in their superhuman ability to be at the right place at the right time, we have been able to obtain the actual report from Mindraft.

Two identical machines, one running Windows 98, the other running Linux, were configured to serve static web pages over a 10 MBit network. (Note: Initially, a 100 MBit network was going to be used, but Windows 98 was unable to handle the traffic, so the test was altered "to give both OSes an equal chance".)

During a 12 hour period, 100 selected hackers were asked to crash and/or modify the content of the web pages. The system with the least number of security breaches would be crowned the winner.

The Windows 98 box was actually running Windows 98 Third Edition, an internal never-to-be-released build of the OS. In addition, the Linux box actually ran Rat Head Linux 0.1, a Microsoft internal distro, featuring, among other things, kernel 0.9.2, wu-ftpd 2.3 and sendmail 8.6.4.

During the test, the Linux box never crashed, although one hacker was able to gain root access by exploiting a buffer overflow. Meanwhile, the hackers were able to easily gain access to the Windows box numerous times, but the system would always crash on its own before they could do any harm.

The results of the test were sent to the Microsoft Marketing and Legal Departments, which interpreted them differently. The "Linux Myths" page operated by Marketing states, "The content of the Windows box was never modified, but the Linux box was. Clearly, Linux is less secure than Windows."

On the other hand, the Legal Department published, "The security of the Linux box was breached only once, while Windows was wide open to the hackers. Clearly Linux is superior with respect to security... anybody with half a brain can see that Linux represents serious competition to Windows. Microsoft does not have a monopoly!"

In response to the news, the Gartner Group issued a press release titled, "Linux Is Competition, But It Still Sucks", which states, "... We recommend all Linux users upgrade to at least Windows 3.1..."

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