How do the most popular Operating Systems compare?

An operating system is essential to businesses and anyone who’s using a computer of any kind. Your operating system is the software that is the interface between yourself and the hardware you’re using. No one in your business can use a computer or mobile device without an operating system, and it plays an important role in cybersecurity as well.

For example, when you have a complex, modern network infrastructure, you need to make sure you have control of core services and IP plans, and the operating system you use can dictate how you achieve this. As an example, Microsoft IP address management (Microsoft IPAM) solutions aren’t going to work for another type of operating system.

What’s interesting is that your company may have focused rigorously on cybersecurity, such as IP address management, and the use of firewalls and antivirus tools, but you might not have ever given much thought to your operating system.

The following are some general things to know about the most popular operating systems, which are Windows, Linux, and Mac.

The Basics

macOS from Apple and Windows from Microsoft are the two most popular operating systems, but not the only options. The Linux operating system is picking up steam and is starting to be considered an option as viable as Mac and Windows.

Linux is unique from Mac and Windows OS because it’s free to download as an open-source program.

In a business environment, it’s best to use a standard operating system so that you’ll have access to popular applications.

Security

A common question businesses have as they face growing and ever-changing security threats are whether or not their operating system matters. The answer is yes, to a degree, but regardless of your OS, you still need certain measures in place to safeguard your assets because no operating system is a full safeguard.

Having a secure operating system should be viewed as a good foundational starting point, but nothing more as far as security goes.

It needs to be paired with good firewalls, user education, and other security best practices.

Additionally, it doesn’t matter what OS you choose but one of the most important things you can do for your business’ cybersecurity is deploying all necessary updates quickly.

Windows

Windows is the most popular OS of all of them, and nearly 90% of all computers use some version of it.

Microsoft has put a lot of effort into improving the security of Windows, and they have rewritten the operating system codebase, added their own antivirus software, and given firewalls a boost.

However, the popularity of Windows can give rise to cybersecurity issues. Cyberattackers work on developing malware for Windows because it gives them a bigger target. Having a wider pool of potential targets gives cybercriminals more bang for their buck.

What About macOS?

macOS has a reputation as being more secure than Windows but that doesn’t mean attackers can’t get through. There was a time when MacOS was viewed virtually impenetrable, but that has come and gone.

Even so, since it’s much less used than Windows, that can be an advantage from a security standpoint.

Apple also really works to stay ahead of rising security issues, which is a plus too.

One of the biggest downsides of the macOS is that it only works on an Apple device. These devices are more expensive than PCs, and you’re pretty limited if this is your OS of choice. Also, like Windows, macOS is closed-source.

And Linux…

A lot of cybersecurity analysts and professionals feel like if you’re looking at different operating system options specifically from a standpoint of security, Linux is the winner. Linux is obscure, which is good for security.

The fact that it’s open-source is actually a benefit too, even though it might not initially seem that way.

Since it’s open-source, coders can look at each other’s work and give feedback. That means that anyone can go through it and make sure there aren’t opportunities for cybercriminals. The tech community provides the oversight for Linux.

Linux also provides unique opportunities for small businesses for minuscule budgets because since it is open-source it’s possible to structure a robust network using it.

Other perks of Linux include hardware support and the unique features it has available.

Every operating system has its up- and downsides and being aware of what they are can help you be more secure. If you’re at a point where you’re deciding on a new OS, the above details can help you in your decision-making.