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Don Burleson Blog 







Oracle & Linux Antivirus

Oracle Database Tips by Donald BurlesonFebruary 15, 2015

Question:  I am using Oracle on a PC with Enterprise Red Hat Linux and I am considering installing Sophos Antivirus for Linux.  How do you use antivirus software with Linux?

AnswerIf this Linux server is not accessible to the Internet, virus protection seems unnecessary to me!  I've administered hundreds of Linux servers, and until your note, I did not even know that a Linux anti-virus product existed!

First, Oracle servers should always be in a secure environment, and unless you are on a Windows platform where you cannot control security, antivirus software should not be necessary.  One of the most common issues with Oracle on Windows is installing antivirus software. 

If you don't configure the software to bypass the Oracle executables and dbf files (everything in $ORACLE_BASE), the antivirus software will stop Oracle and scan each dbf file every time it is read!  In Oracle, the dbf files can be read hundreds of times per second.  Obviously, this adds significant overhead and ruins performance.

Second, Linux viruses are quite rare, with the exception of "inside jobs" like a Linux rootkits.  If you examine the stages of a Linux rootkit attack, you can see how antivirus software will not protect your server.  There is also a security issue because internet access is required to stay current with antivirus updates, and opening-up an Oracle server to the web is never a good idea unless you follow security best practices.

Databases that are configured to allow Internet communications from other web portals face an exceptional data security challenge, and special techniques are used to secure Oracle databases on the web. Foreign hackers will constantly attempt to hack into Oracle web portals, eventually locating a weakness in the Net Services architecture.

Just for grins, turn it off, and see if your end-user response time improves. . . .

As of 2015, Linux experts do not recommend any Linux antivirus products.  The whole market for Antivirus software is driven by Windows crapware, and on a well-designed operating system, viruses are much more difficult to deploy:

"Malware in Windows Land is usually spread by email clients, browser bits, or IM clients, which graciously accept the poisoned fruit from others, then neatly deposit it on their masters' systems, where malware authors know it will likely be executed and do their bidding -- without ever asking permission.

Some malware programs require that you open an attachment. Others don't even require that user error. By hook or by crook, malware on Windows often gets executed, infecting the local system first, then spreading itself to others. What a terrible neighborhood. I'm glad I don't live there.

On Linux, there is built-in protection against such craft. Newly deposited files from your email client or Web browser are not given execute privileges. Cleverly renaming executable files as something else doesn't matter, because Linux and its applications don't depend on file extensions to identify the properties of a file, so they won't mistakenly execute malware as they interact with it."

In sum, Linux antivirus on Oracle servers appears to be a waste of computing resources.



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