I am more about getting the job done and I don’t care what OS I use. I remember reading some place that a person’s preference for an OS reveals more about that person than the OS. As cold as computer people are supposed to be as displayed in movies, I actually find them the opposite. I am surprised how passionate about technology many are and often their allegiance to an OS is sometimes emotional based.
Linux was embraced as the OS of choice by the underground for the longest time, but why was that? Several reasons existed. Back in the days of when windows 98 had just come out, linux was definably ahead. Windows 98 was a “wanna be” 32 bit overlay gui struggling on a 16 bit DOS underbelly. Not the most stable environment and was prone to crashing. It was said that Microsoft was worried about legal problems from Apple if they created a pure 32 bit OS since they “borrowed” the windows idea from Apple during there brief association together. So they were stuck with pushing something not as efficient or stable. Also, the underground seems to attract some very paranoid people and I remember a lot of people being worried that Gates had hidden some kind of spy ware deep inside windows and because everyone from the government to financial institutions used it, Gates was set up to be the next Lex Luther or Dr. Evil !
Early on many of the hacking tools were written only for linux, making it difficult to do much without at least some knowledge of that OS. Linux stood out, a powerful 32 bit OS that you could open up and look at the source code and you could tweak it so many ways to what your preference might be. Windows was seen as closed and hidden and being pushed by one greedy man on the entire world! If you have never been exposed to this kind of thinking, perhaps now you can see why the underground embraced linux so feverishly!
What about the tools available today? Is one platform favored above another? This is difficult to answer because each pen tester favors certain apps and therefore might lean more towards one OS over another. However, if we were to analyze the Top 100 Network Security Tools that are listed on Insecure.org and use that list as a standard, we find some interesting facts. If you were a linux only user there are 22 exclusive windows apps you could not use on that list. If you were a windows only user, there are 25 linux apps that would be unavailable to you. It’s so close to being even that you could not say one OS is more important than the other.
As for me, I can’t say one is better than the other at this point in time and I am referring to its use in the art and science of hacking. I am certainly not referring to the OS I would recommend to my grandma! That OS would be a very obvious choice indeed, lol! When XP was introduced for everyone, being a truer 32 bit structure, things really changed, although you would still see people that were loyal to linux calling it windoze. Its just too hard to let go of your prejudice sometimes. Now windows was fast and more stable. It actually started to feel like it had the power of linux or unix. By the way, if you wanted to get flamed back in those days, just go to a hacker forum and post that your favorite ISP was AOL and you ran windows! Actually, all you had to do was say something nice about windows !
I have done some very efficient hacking with windows and I can’t say that the reverse shell I get is in any way less stable. There have been times I felt I had better results with nmap using linux. Exploits if they are ported correctly work just fine with windows. Ok, so where am I headed with all of this? Yes, you guessed it, for me the best set up is using both! Both have their strong and weak points. They really compliment each other. I run linux on one laptop and windows on another. Right now I am using XP pro and Fedora Core 5.
Say for instance I want to crack WEP. I will run airodump on my windows machine and at the same time, I will run aireplay on my linux laptop. I do all my reconnaissance work with windows. Scanning is 90% a linux operation for me. If I want to use a bootable cd, well I better know my linux! Anyway, I hope you see how I jump from one to the other and I find this really works well.
So, is one easier to hack than the other? That’s a loaded question because it depends on the set up. For many years the cry was linux was more secure because you could turn off services and customize the installation more so than windows, etc… However, it was an embarrassing statistic to the linux aficionados that the most hacked servers in the world were linux! I can testify to the fact that both windows and linux, if properly configured, have the ability to be nearly impenetrable!
That’s my perspective on it and I try to be as objective as I can, because as I stated before, I am more interested in getting the job done!