Rootkit Scan

Rootkits are a computer problem that has been around as long as the internet itself. Rootkits have existed for approximately 20 years, and they allow attackers an easy way to get into a target computer and steal information without detection. Rootkits allow attackers to maintain a long-term presence on a computer so that they can continue to keep stealing information undetected.

Rootkit Scan
Rootkit Scan | Image by kalhh from Pixabay

The term “rootkit” is loosely applied to malware tools specifically designed to remain hidden on an infected computer and allow an attacker remote control over a target computer. We’ve put together this great guide on what is a rootkit, how it works, and more to give you a full and complete understanding of rootkits and what to do if you get hit by one.

What is a Rootkit?

As mentioned before, the term “rootkit” is applied to a subset of malware that targets computers and is designed to stay hidden. A rootkit allows attackers to have persistent remote access on target computers. These malware programs are stored deep in the operating system, which helps them avoid detection by security tools such as antivirus and anti-malware programs.

Rootkits, as the name implies, include a full kit of tools. They can consist of things such as password stealers, keystroke loggers, modules for stealing banking information and credit card details, bots for participating in DDoS attacks, and functions that allow a rootkit to disable security software.

A rootkit attack is generally an early wave in a larger attack. Rootkits provide attackers with a backdoor that allows attackers to connect to infected machines whenever they want remotely. They can use this connection to install other things, such as malware or different rootkit components. Some of the most common Windows-based rootkits still used today are ZeroAccess, TDSS, and Alureon.

Rootkit Variants

There are two main kinds of rootkits to watch out for. The first is the user-mode rootkit, and the second is the kernel-mode rootkit. User-mode rootkits run in the same part of an operating system as user applications. These rootkits perform their malicious tasks by attaching themselves to application processes and stealing the memory used by that application for their purposes. User-mode rootkits are the most common type of rootkits.

Kernel-mode rootkits, on the other hand, dive deep into the lowest parts of a computer operating system. By getting so deep into the computer, this rootkit provides attackers with the most potential privileges and full access to a computer. Kernel-mode rootkits give attackers as much control as they want so they can do anything they want. These rootkits are often more complex than the other type of rootkit, making them less common. Finding and exploiting a vulnerable rootkit driver takes more work. These rootkits are also much harder to find and remove once they get on a system.

Outside of these two, there are some less common variants of the rootkit to watch out for. Another common form of rootkit is bootkit. As the name implies, bootkit is a virus that modifies the boot loader on a computer. Boot loader software is the low-level software that runs on a computer before operating systems load.

Mobile rootkits are a relatively new form of rootkit that has emerged in recent years. These rootkits are aimed at smartphones, in particular Android devices. Mobile rootkits are associated with malicious apps downloaded from forums and third-party app stores.

How do Rootkits Infect Computers?

There are several ways that a rootkit can get on a target computer. The most common method of infection for rootkits is leveraging a vulnerability in an application or with the operating system on the computer. Cyber attackers target vulnerabilities, both known and unknown, to get access to computers. They use code designed to exploit these vulnerabilities to establish a presence on a system and take remote control. Attackers can find these exploit codes in a few different places. Some exploit codes are posted on legitimate websites attackers have compromised for their own gain.

Rootkits can also access computers through USB drives. In a rather ingenious trick, attackers leave USB drives loaded with rootkits in public places such as coffee shops and office buildings. People find these USB sticks and are too curious not to plug them in and see what is on there. The rootkit on a USB stick might still rely on other vulnerabilities, but in most cases, the malware is installed when someone opens a legitimate file on the drive. Some malware is so advanced that just plugging in the USB drive is enough to do the trick.

How to Remove Rootkits

Finding and removing rootkits presents a significant problem. These malware programs are designed with stealth in mind, after all. They are built to be as undetectable as possible so they can work in the background and exploit a computer.

There are several utilities designed to find rootkits. These utilities find rootkits through a range of methods, such as checking signatures and behavior of a computer to find rootkits through known behavior patterns. The process of removing a rootkit can be just as complicated as finding it. It will take a specialized tool such as Malwarebytes rootkit scanner to eliminate a rootkit.

Sometimes the damage is just too much, however, and no tool will help. In these cases, the only option is to reinstall the operating system on the computer completely. It’s best to remove any files on the computer at this time as well, to prevent further infection in the future. Prevention is always better than the cure with malware, especially with something as malicious as a rootkit.

Final Thoughts

While all malware is an issue, rootkits could be the worst of the bunch. These are malware programs designed to hide in an operating system, on the root level, to avoid detection and deletion. Rootkits give attackers all kinds of control over an infected system and are a threat you should avoid at all costs. Use effective anti

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