Popularity becomes a two edge sword to Linux. The open source system is a key component of Internet infrastructure and the foundation of largest mobile markets OS and Google's Android.

Hackers previously aimed dirty tricks at Windows and now pay its attention on widespread use of the OS machines based on Linux. Ransomware purveyors attacked Linux last year, which were not very virulent but more potent strain versions will be on the way.

Less than three weeks of 2016, researchers discovered a bug in Linux kernel, attackers could exploit to manage computers running the operating system and millions of Android machines.

Vulnerabilities in Windows receive a lot of attention, noted Russ Erist, Product Director at Heat Software. Windows get all the attention because of its market share but three quarters of vulnerabilities out there are on Linux and Mac machines

Both Linux and Apple OS X systems connect to Unix developed by AT & T. While Windows dominate the operating system on desktops, Linux dominates other sectors data centers and mobile phones.

Linux is used at the backbone of many cloud hosted services. Three quarters of data centers are in Amazon Web Services, Linux based. And more than 50% of machines in Microsoft's Azure based on Linux.

A number of publicized vulnerablities such as The Poodle, Heartbleed and OpenSSL gears in motion in the mind of Linux's black hat community.

The pace of attacks on Linux has quickened for serveral years, particularly in the server environment. Microsoft has been targted due to its dominant market for many years. But Window becomes less attractive as Microsoft has well improved the security, making it difficult to attack.

Over the years, Linux makes a better target due to Android Linux based leads the share of global smartphone and tablet markets

Linux, an open source program can be maintained better than other competing systems. There is a lot visibility into underlying vulnerabilities in components being shared. Linux is composed of Linux kernel and enormous array of applications. Many very smart people check the new code that goes into kernel and well tested. The maintenance of Linux is good but it would be better if developers embraced security from the initial cycle of development.

Its difficult to produce pristine programs. May be too much code churn, lack of testing, ill defined review process, architecture oversight or simple genuine bugs, all of these add up to make a tough challenge. There is no simple way, Linux and opensource ecosystem are complex, encompassing developers, maintainers, applications and components. There are many dark corners invisible to eyeballs.

Linux defenders expect more attacks this year. Organizations convert to cloud computing, accept corporate data stored outside their own network. A lot of cloud hosted services are using Linux in their backend, make a ripe target for bad guys. There is ample opportunity to write malware and used to infect a number of Android devices.