Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Linux is the only safe option for Windows users interested in online banking"

Is it true? Computerworld's Michael Horowitz seems to think so:

Being safe with Ubuntu on a USB flash drive
One of the best things a Windows user can do for Defensive Computing is to have a bootable copy of Linux on hand. The classic reason being to rescue a broken copy of the operating system, but the much more important reason is for on-line banking.

Anyone that does online banking on a Windows machine is taking a huge risk. Most likely they don't understand how sophisticated the bad guys are at writing malware. For example, man-in-the-browser attacks even defeat two factor authentication schemes.

No amount of Defensive Computing for Windows can ever be close to perfect. Linux is the only safe option for Windows users interested in online banking.


My USB flash drive with Linux was getting a bit old, so I set out to create a new one with the latest version (10.10) of Ubuntu.

I was pleasantly surprised that the Ubuntu download page now includes instructions for installing the system onto a USB flash from Windows, OS X and, of course, Ubuntu. In the old days, I used to create a CD, boot to it and then use the included Startup Disk Creator from within Ubuntu to create a bootable copy on a USB flash drive. This was documented poorly and failed as often as it succeeded.

Thankfully, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, now seems to have endorsed the Universal USB Linux Installer available at I've used it in the past, from within Windows, with good success.

The bad news is that Canonical's documentation is far from complete. You are much better off reading about the Universal USB Installer from the source.

In brief, this is what you need to know. [...]

Read the whole thing, for the embedded links and more. In the comments after the article, are some suggestions for hardening your Windows system for security with on-line banking.

I've tried other USB installers for Linux, but not this Universal USB Installer. I will try it next. I'm just about start using on-line banking, so this subject interests me. The installer works with just about any Linux distribution you chose, so I will be experimenting with it.

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