An operating system (OS) is the main software which controls the access between regular software and the computing hardware. By allocating resources efficiently, the OS should allow for all running processes to be able to access what they request in a timely manner, depending on the other requests it has received. Any running software looks to the OS in order to get the system accesses they desire. The OS is therefore the main security checkpoint that users have.
All computers, as well as tablets and smartphones, use operating systems to provide functionality. Popular examples of computer operating systems include Microsoft Windows, Apple OSX and Linux, although there are many different versions of each. As OSes are software themselves, they are equally capable of having vulnerabilities like any other kind of software, which attackers could look to make use of. Therefore, whenever OS updates are available, users should always look to allow them as soon as possible.
In the same way that software developers must write software specifically for different types of OS, malware writers must also develop their code in the same way. This means that specific types of malware can usually only run on certain systems, but this does not mean that the writers did not also take the time to write versions for different types of OS. However, there are certainly different types of malware which exist on all types of OS, including those on phones, tablets, and other types of IoT gadgets. This means that users of all different types of OS need to be careful with preventing malware getting onto their systems in the first place.
Last updated: 3 September 2017