Linux Malware Found to Be at an All-Time High in 2022

reached an all-time high in the first half of 2022, with nearly 1.7 million samples discovered.

AtlasVPN has found that new Linux malware rose exponentially in the first half of 2022, reaching an all-time high with nearly 1.7 million samples discovered.

Linux Malware Is on the Rise Despite Past Declines

VPN provider AtlasVPN has reported that new Linux malware became vastly more prevalent in the first half of 2022. Compared to the first half of 2021, the instances of new malware rose by almost 650% from January to June 2022, from 226,324 to nearly 1.7 million samples, the highest number ever recorded. It was also found by AtlasVPN that April had the highest number of malware samples – 400,931.

AtlasVPN stated in a report that this huge spike in new Linux malware samples followed a decline that was seen between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. A drop of 2% was seen, but this decline did not last long, with AtlasVPN stating in the same report that the “cumulative number of new Linux malware samples in H1 2022 was 31% higher than the number of such samples in the whole year of 2021”.

Linux Has Long-Since Been Seen as a Secure OS

This huge uptick in malware samples is somewhat surprising, as Linux is viewed by many as one of the most private and secure operating systems out there today.

In late 2021, it was even stated in a post by Linux Security that Linux is “arguably the most secure OS by design”, namely due to its open-source framework, user privilege model, and built-in kernel security defenses. However, the evidently increasing number of cyberattacks experienced on Linux was also acknowledged in this post.

Windows Still Has the Highest Number of Malware Infections

Though the severe increase in new Linux malware is concerning, Windows still leads as the most malware-infected operating system. AtlasVPN acknowledged this fact in its post on Linux's malware spike, stating that “41.4 million newly-programmed Windows malware samples were identified in H1 2022”. So, while Linux malware is on the rise, it has a way to go before reaching the same level as Windows.

Linux's Uptick in Malware Samples Is a Definite Concern

The steep incline in new Linux malware samples that took in the first half of 2022 may indicate that Linux is becoming more of a target for malicious parties. It is not known if this upward curve will continue over time, or if a plateau or decline in new malware samples will be seen on this world-renowned operating system.

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