As an absolute newbie, can someone clarify security for me. In Windows I have a firewall and antivirus programme, all with regular updates. In Suse I get notification about updates available, and I click on and it goes ahead and runs, but I have no idea what it is doing. Do I need similar things to Windows, and if so …what>?
openSUSE does include the SUSEFirewall (configuration via Yast) which “seems to do the right thing” by default i.e. only allows inbound TCP connections if an outgoing connection has established it or if a user as configured the firewall to explicitly allow connections on a particular port. Its at least as good as the windows firewall, probably better.
Viruses are a bit different. In theory thanks to the Unix file permission model files have to be made executable before they can be run. Theory is fine but there are other ways to hose a system if you know where to poke. Windows is a more lucrative target for virus writers so there are just less out there affecting Linux (or OS X, BSD, …).
But that doesn’t prevent the phishing/social engineering style attacks e.g. hey i just found this cool Linux program “sudo <some command>”.
The same rules apply, don’t install rpms from strangers, don’t paste in commands from random forums unless you understand what they do.
As far as actual Virus/malware scanners for Linux I’m sure they are around. Hopefully someone will post some links for you.
openSUSE comes with its own firewall that is enabled and configured by default. Unless you have very specific needs (which you would know if you did) there isn’t much you need to worry about with it, so it’s best left untouched.
As for viruses and malware, there is little need in Linux to have an active anti-virus/anti-spyware scanner like in Windows. There are very few Linux-based malware programs, and most require running as root to do anything anyway.
Most folks who run anti-virus software in Linux do so b/c they share files with Windows machines on the same network, so they run the software to assist the Windows machines from getting infected. Unless this explains your setup at home, don’t worry about running antivirus software.
The biggest security concerns on Linux are security updates to installed programs, and social engineering. So long as you install the security updates as they come out, and don’t do things like blindly installing programs you find in questionable places, or running commands which you don’t understand, you will be perfectly safe.
It was reassurance I needed, and you both have given it me. Thanks!