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Linux security best practices

Linux, the popular open-source operating system, comes with some useful built-in security features, but you can do a lot more to stay safe while using it. Find out everything you need to know about best security practices for Linux.

Linux security best practices

Is Linux secure?

Linux is one of the most secure operating systems available, but why is that? Perhaps most importantly, the Linux system is open source. This means that users can examine and test all the processes within their device and can find and patch vulnerabilities themselves.

The Linux operating system also comes with a wide range of built-in kernel cyberdefenses, including layers of firewalls. Combine this benefit with the fact that Linux also relies on a strict user privilege model, drastically limiting who can act as a system administrator with root access, and you’re left with a very secure operating system. For both individual users with personal devices and businesses concerned about server security, Linux is a good option.

Even though Linux systems are inherently very secure, you can still take steps to enhance your overall Linux safety.

7 Linux security tips

Here are seven useful tips for protecting a Linux server or personal device.

Update your system regularly

Updating your operating system and the software you run on it is a key part of staying secure, regardless of your OS. Updates often include essential patches that fix vulnerabilities and security issues, so failing to install them could put you at greater risk of being hacked.

Use strong passwords

No matter how secure your OS is, a weak password could still leave the door open to cybercriminals. A secure password is one that contains numbers, letters, and symbols and is at least 10 characters long. Remember, the longer a password is, the harder it is to crack. You may want to use a password manager to make your devices even safer.

Restrict user privileges

Limit user access and privileges to (ideally) one person.The more system administrators who have root access to your Linux systems, the higher the likelihood of a breach or hack. The benefit of most secure Linux distributions is how restricted privileges can be, so take full advantage of this feature.

Enable firewalls

Turn on firewalls to enhance network security and block traffic that might pose a threat to your devices. Firewalls can limit the use of network services and ports to ensure that only essential traffic is able to reach your device. Network firewalls offer an extra line of defense on top of the built-in firewalls of the Linux system itself.

Monitor system logs

Regularly check your system logs to keep track of any unusual or suspicious activity. Doing so will allow you to spot red flags like failed login attempts (potentially from someone trying to hack your systems). If possible, make a habit of looking for threat indicators.

Back up your data

Back up your data frequently to ensure that you don’t lose it in the event of a cyberattack. Some viruses destroy data, while ransomware encrypts it and prevents you from accessing your files until you pay a fee to the attacker. The best way to mitigate the impact of such an attack is to back up regularly to another device or secure cloud storage.

Remove unused software

If you no longer use a piece of software, uninstall it. We’ve already spoken about the importance of updates, but even the most conscientious updater might forget to attend to software they haven’t used in years. If you leave old applications on your device without updating them and changing passwords occasionally, they could put your whole system at risk.

Linux security tools

Linux users can enhance their security with a range of useful tools. Here are three of the best options available right now.

Antivirus software

Linux is a very secure OS, but it’s not impregnable. Some threats will slip through its defenses, so having antivirus software is a good way of adding an extra layer of security to your system. Antivirus software can scan and neutralize Linux malware and other threats in real time as well as sweep your system regularly for unwanted files like trojans and adware.


SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux) is a Linux kernel security module which can facilitate mandatory access control (MAC) security policies for Linux. This module ensures that access to system resources is based on preset rules, which are enforced regardless of user privileges. Implementing SELinux makes it harder for a hack in one area of a system to escalate even if the attacker is able to gain user privileges.


VPNs encrypt your data as it travels between your device and a VPN server. As a result, internet service providers and Wi-Fi snoopers cannot view your browsing activity, and your IP address is shielded. Even when using unsafe wireless networks, like public Wi-Fi hotspots, your data is still shielded, and with NordVPN’s Threat Protection feature you can also benefit from ad blocking and extra malware protection. NordVPN provides a powerful VPN for Linux, so you can make encryption a foundational part of your security strategy.

Conclusion: Should you choose Linux for security?

Linux is a great option for users wanting a secure operating system. With strong in-built firewalls and limited user privileges, the OS comes with a good baseline of protection. But, ultimately, the privacy and security depend on the tools you use. For example, when you’re choosing a web browser for Ubuntu or other Linux distributions, make sure it’s open source and secure.

Securing Linux is made even easier with tools like SELinux and NordVPN, which can reinforce the system’s defenses. Taking additional steps to enhance security for Linux is always important, because the more layers of protection you have in place, the safer you’ll be.

Regardless of the operating system you choose, however, we recommend using a VPN. NordVPN can boost security across up to six devices with one account, making it one of the easiest and fastest ways to supercharge online protection.

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