Coming from a windows background, and I have admin'd a windows box for years now and I pretty much just have to install the patches (actually auto update takes care of that!).

I am thinking about playing around with slicehost, and want an if a default install of ubuntu is 'hacker proof'?

  • I think you mean if it has remote holes or not. If you're considering local exploits too than it becomes more vulnerable. The Linux kernel had its share of security bugs, e.g. theregister.co.uk/2009/08/14/critical_linux_bug. P.S. You should add a security tag to the question. – Cristian Ciupitu Sep 27 '09 at 15:02
  • That bug's solved in latest Debian/Ubuntu/RHEL updates. I don't think anyones assuming it's had no remote bugs, probably more whether there are any brain dead services running by default (like Solaris starts telnet by default, for example), and whether there are likely to be unpatched vulnerabilities. – Cian Sep 27 '09 at 17:55
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    Work on the assumption that nothing is "hacker proof". Even those systems that may be considered secure today may not be so tomorrow, because someone may discover a new vulnerability or develop a new technique. – John Gardeniers Sep 28 '09 at 2:37

Nothing is ever hacker proof, bar the oft mentioned computer plugged out in a basement behind a locked door, in a safe. The default Ubuntu install, if fully up to date should have no known vulnerabilities however. You probably want to install fail2ban or something to prevent easy brute force attacks, but other than that it's pretty good. Obviously, you'll have to keep up to date as well, and it's always worth taking some care in configuration (i.e. don't have mysql running on an external ip if it's not needed, and have it firewalled if it is. Don't have services you don't need running. The usual things). The defaults however should be at least as secure as the windows default, assuming you remain up to date.


Depends on what you mean by "hacker proof". Bad passwords will always leave something vulnerable, as does bad code in applications you may install from third parties, and there may be vulnerabilities being fixed upstream and not in the repo's yet.

Plus version 9.10 is due in October.

That said, Ubuntu with the software firewall on and no services enabled is as unbroken as they can make it. I know of nothing that a fully updated install has as a known vulnerability.

What services are you going to run on it? Where are you getting the software?

  • want to run phython, mysql basically (web server with db) – user21317 Sep 27 '09 at 15:06

Is there such a thing an non hackable software or systems? It depends entirely on the amount of time and effort the hacker is willing to invest in finding a way in, and how long you let them try before sicking the dogs on them. Given enough time and resources, even the system in the basement in the safe is eventually hackable. It might need some serious hardware to do it.. but it can be done.

All you can ever do with systems in my opinion is make it harder, slower and with more chance of you finding out that your being hacked so you can do something to stop it.

The default installs these days are pretty good, and as already stated, stopping anything running that you don't need and performing the usual common sense tasks with passwords and user permissions etc will make it harder.. but never assume your safe (especially on a windows box, as a windows admin I'm amazed you would ever assume that you are safe).



Like others mentioned, your server is as (un)secure as you make it and everything can be potentially hacked, even your Windows box.

When setting up your server on Slicehost, take the time to read through some of the excellent articles on their web site. If you're setting up Ubuntu I suggest your stick with the LTS versions (Long Term Support) of which the current one is 8.04 (Hardy). Read through some the articles to set up a basic secure server. How you take it from there is totally up to you.


Of course it's hackable; all software is. To be a little bit more specific, every instance in the OS where data is written to a memory location is a potential buffer overrun vulnerability, and that's just for starters.


Slicehost images are likely different than a normal default Ubuntu install; mostly in the form of less stuff installed, so it should mostly have less vulnerabilities. There are tools out there to email you when patches are available for installed packages, so you can keep on top of patching. Ubuntu takes a number of steps to slow attackers, but it's still easy to install extra stuff that abuses your host.

At a minimum, I'd make sure that packages you choose to install have Ubuntu repositories for security updates, upstream reporting and announcement facilities and an active maintainer.

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