The Hague — Ransomware eclipsed most other forms of cyber crime as online crime surged in 2017, European policing agency Europol said on Wednesday, citing high-profile attacks such as "WannaCry" that reached millions of computers.
My own family was a ransomware victim. My mom -- a smart woman who has used a desktop computer for decades -- was hit a few years ago. The thieves requested hundreds of dollars via PayPal to remove the encryption they'd placed on the Documents folder of her Windows 10 PC. I researched the problem, and checked with my cybersecurity friends. Their advice? "Pay the damn money." In mom's case, we never managed to recover her Documents folder, and we only found some of her past Word files in old back-ups my dad had taken years earlier.
Which brings us to another advantage of Linux on the desktop: Malware ("ransomware" is a type of malware) is virtually unknown in this OS universe.
There are loads discussions about this on the interwebs -- commentaries that can become technical and arcane very fast. But one of the big reasons Linux-based systems are more secure comes down to this:
While the average Linux user opens the package manager and get the vendor-built software package (and doesn't leave the official repository to find software in 90% cases), the average (non-IT) Windows user opens the browser's tab, and Google for "install 7-zip" or even "install file archiver," and very often accidentally navigates to malware-stuffed website, that is specially crafted and SEOed to catch such kind of users.
Okay, another reason has to do, simply, with market share. As Linux has a much smaller market share -- on the desktop, not servers, mainframes or supercomputers, where Linux leads -- the potential pool of victims is smaller. If your going to develop some malware, you will go for the biggest possible market: Windows (or, maybe, Android).
It's worth repeating: Let's be safe out there. Use only the official repositories for downloading applications and updates, and only grant yourself "root" privileges as needed. (That's were the "sudo" command comes in.)