Staying secure on my Ubuntu installation, part 1

Since my last post, I’ve since reinstalled Ubuntu “Intrepid Ibex” on my laptop. Right now, my ardor has cooled off i.e. if a package does not have a GUI, I don’t bother installing it. A lot of it has to do with my poor fingers and my current un-ergonomical setup. 🙂 At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. With my fresh install of Ubuntu, my old security fears arose, but I’m going to highlight a few things (more like neuroses) that have eased my security fears:

  1. If it is not in the Ubuntu official repositories and supported by Ubuntu, I’m more leery of installing the program. If I do install the package, I make sure to do my research i.e. Google & make sure that the owner is still actively maintaining the package.
  2. Situations will arise when you need to add additional repositories in order to more software and you have to make sure you are adding a repository from a trusted source. Cases in point: I’ve got Google Picasa for Linux and Google Desktop Search (Linux) on my laptop. I already trust Google with my credit card information so I feel reasonably secure about adding the Google Linux repositories. The other example is with the Medibuntu packages which contain non-free items like Adobe Acrobat Reader for Linux and a bunch of Gstreamer plugins that can play MP3, etc. By default, Ubuntu does not support such formats (mp3, aac, etc).
  3. In a lot of cases, you will need to download the equivalent of a .exe file for the Linux system which is a .deb file. Cases in point: I needed an on-demand antivirus scanner that I could trust and in the past, I’ve used Bitdefender on Windows. My experience with Bitdefender turned sour after several failed reinstallations of Bitdefender and the lacklustre customer service. However, I learned of their Bitdefender Antivirus Scanner for Unices and in order to get it, I had to sign up for a personal license which is very generous on Bitdefender’s part. Then, I was sent a link to download the Debian package (.deb) and all you do is double-click to install and you are on your way! Thus far, my experience with the Bitdefender Scanner for Unices has been: it’s blazing fast, the GUI is user-friendly and thankfully, I haven’t had any viruses yet, but I downloaded a test virus and it was detected. lol.
  4. I’ve installed the chkrootkit package which is supported by Ubuntu and (duh) checks for rootkits which are nasty infections of the computer a.k.a. the complete ownage of a computer. 🙂 I’ve got installed the rkhunter package and as you would expect, both packages are commandline utilities so I’m slowly getting over my commandline phobia.

That’s all for now! Feel free to place suggestions about best practices for security also.