How to Detect Rootkits

A rootkit is a kind of software that allows hackers to gain access to it and power over a computer. Although most rootkits attack software as well as the operating system, many also can corrupt the hardware and firmware of the machine. Rootkits are good at hiding their presence, yet they are still active when they are concealed. Let’s take a look at how to detect rootkits, types, and how to prevent them.

How to Detect Rootkits
How to Detect Rootkits | Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What is rootkit?

A rootkit is a piece of software that cybercriminals employ to assume charge of a computer or network. Rootkits could appear as a single piece of software, even though they’re usually a set of tools that provide hackers administrative access to the target device.

Rootkits allow hackers to steal private data and important information, set up malicious software, or utilize computers as a section of a botnet to send spam and engage in distributed denial of service (DDoS) assaults once they get unauthorized access to a computer.

The term “rootkit” comes from the Unix and Linux operating systems, in which the most privileged account administrator is known as “root.” The “kit” refers to the applications that give unlawful root or admin-level accessibility to the system.

Rootkits are installed on target machines in a variety of ways by hackers:

  • Phishing or another sort of social engineering assault is the most common. Unwittingly, victims simply download malware that hides in other programs running on their computers. Giving hackers complete control over the operating system.
  • Another method is to force the rootkit onto the computer by exploiting a vulnerability. Such as a flaw in software or an out-of-date operating system.
  • Malware could also come packaged with some other files. Files like contaminated PDFs, unlicensed media, or software downloaded from shady third-party marketplaces.
  • Rootkits work close to or within the kernels of the operating system. This allowed them to send orders to the computer.
  • Rootkits can conceal keyloggers that record the keystrokes without your permission. Cybercriminals will have an easier time stealing your personal information, like credit card or online banking information, as a result of this.
  • Rootkits are sometimes used for good reasons, such as offering enhanced IT help or supporting law enforcement.

Types of rootkits

  • Bootloader rootkit
  • Hardware or firmware rootkit
  • Memory rootkit
  • Kernel mode rootkits
  • Application rootkit
  • Virtual rootkits

How to detect rootkits

It might be hard to detect the existence of a rootkit on a computer because this type of malware is intended to remain undetected. Rootkits can also deactivate security software, making the job even more difficult. As a consequence, rootkit malware may persist on your system for an extended period of time, causing severe harm.

You can find some rootkit detection tools on our tool page.

Rootkit malware can be identified by the following indications:

Blue screen- A huge number of Windows alerts or blue screens with white lettering (often known as “the blue screen of death”), as well as the necessity to reset your computer frequently.

Web browser behavior that is out of the ordinary- Unidentified bookmarks or hyperlink redirection are examples of this.

Device performance is slow-This may take a long time for the device to start, but it may perform slowly or freeze often. It may also be unable to react to mouse or keyboard input.

Unauthorized changes to Windows settings-When you’ve not changed anything, the screensaver may alter, the taskbar may hide itself, or the erroneous date and time may appear.

Web pages aren’t working properly-Excessive network traffic causes web pages or network operations to seem sporadic or fail to perform properly.

The antivirus solution is a rootkit scan. This is the simplest approach to detect a rootkit infestation. When you suspect your computer has been infected with a rootkit virus.  Shut it down and run a scan from a verified clean system.

Another way of rootkit identification is behavioral analysis. This indicates you’re looking for rootkit-like behavior rather than the rootkit itself. Behavioral analysis may detect a rootkit before you realize you’re under assault. Whereas focused scans are useful when you know the system is acting strangely.

Prevention of rootkits

Because rootkits are hazardous and hard to detect, it’s crucial to be cautious when surfing the web or downloading software.

Many of the same safeguards you use to prevent computer viruses can also be used to reduce the risk of rootkits:

  • Make use of a complete cyber security solution.
  • Maintain a current knowledge base
  • Be on the lookout for phishing frauds.
  • Only download files from reputable sources.
  • Pay attention to how your computer behaves or performs.


Eliminating a rootkit is a difficult task that usually necessitates the use of specialized tools. Tools such as Kaspersky’s TDSSKiller software. This tool can help eliminate the TDSS rootkit. Often the only way to completely remove a well-hidden rootkit would be to wipe the computer’s operating system and start again. This is how to detect rootkits and handle them.

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