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Industry research organization Gartner recently came out with a shocking recommendation–shocking, at least, for a mainstream industry group. After all the problems with the Nimda Worm and the Code Red attacks, Gartner recommends that organizations running Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (IIS) consider alternatives. Two pages on Gartner’s Web site have, respectively, details about their recommendations on Nimda and commentary on Code Red. Even though you can get patches for IIS, Gartner still recommends looking for alternatives.
With this recommendation, a lot of Linux adherents cheered, but advocacy aside, organizations running IIS discovered just how vulnerable they are with these recent problems. Many are now finding out that Linux offers a viable alternative.
Not only is Linux a popular server replacement for Windows systems, but just about every Linux distribution includes the Apache Web server. Apache also runs on Windows and other operating systems, but it is most closely associated with Linux.
Some organizations were virtually shut down by Nimda. In the wake of Nimda and Code Red, organizations are taking a much harder look at not only Linux but also the free Apache Web server.
Now, Apache isn’t perfect, nor is it perfectly secure. And Microsoft marketing folks are trying to spread that word. The bottom line, though, is that Apache is the No. 1 Web server on the Internet and has been for years. Gartner points out that while Apache and iPlanet (a commercial Web server mentioned as another alternative to IIS by Gartner) have both required security patches, their security records are much better than that of IIS.
Even though Apache is the top Web server on the Internet, virus and worm writers still focus their efforts mostly on Windows-related technologies, especially Microsoft Outlook, and more recently, IIS.
While Apache may well have vulnerabilities, it has had a better record than IIS. In addition, Apache is less tied to the underlying operating system than IIS, limiting some of the damage that can be done by malicious users, depending on the configuration.
If your organization was hit by these or other serious problems, you can find out more about both Apache and iPlanet. The iPlanet Web page even has a tag line related to the Nimda worm and a limited-time special offer for users of other Web servers. Apache is free.