What is rootkit scan?

In this article, what is rootkit scan, we are about to talk about the scary part of malware name rootkit and about scanning for rootkits.

What is rootkit scan
What is rootkit scan? | Image by Dr StClaire from Pixabay

Gone are the days when we used to have heavy loads of viruses spread widely through floppy disks. Today, with the extensive use of the internet in our lives, the virus writers have upgraded themselves and designed such viruses which create havoc without even attaching themselves to your computer memory. But then again, there is something called rootkits responsible for creating a lot of problems for you. If you want to know more about it, read this article further.

WHAT IS A ROOTKIT?

Rootkits can be defined as the set of tools installed after gaining administrative access to a computer system or network that enables continued privileged access and provides backdoors and remote access for malicious purposes. In simple words, rootkits can be defined as the set of tools installed after gaining administrative access to a computer system or network that enables continued privileged access and provides backdoors and remote access for malicious purposes.

You may wonder why you need to scan for rootkits if you have already installed anti-virus on your device? Well, sometimes, even the most powerful anti-virus does not manage to detect such viruses, which in return creates havoc inside your computer system. Moreover, there is always a scope for developing more advanced rootkits, which will soon come out with new features and will make detection by anti-virus that much harder. Thus it becomes essential to know about rootkit scan and how important it can be for you.

What is rootkit scan?

The idea behind rootkit scanning is determining whether or not a system has been maliciously altered to conceal the existence of malware. Attackers may install this kind of software (rootkits) on compromised machines to hide their presence, allowing them to carry out additional crimes and activities undetected.

Rootkits are typically installed with some form of user consent, but this phase is often bypassed in the case of targeted attacks due to social engineering.

The purpose of a rootkit detection tool is to find suspect files and programs that could indicate such an infection. The process essentially consists of comparing findings obtained from various locations on your computer against baseline images known to be clean. The idea is to seek out files or programs that have been modified, replaced, created, or are otherwise unknown to the system administrator.

Rootkit detection can also be performed in an isolated environment using a virtual machine. This technique is sometimes used when there’s reason to suspect that the host computer may have been compromised. Still, it cannot be booted normally for other reasons (such as malware infecting the boot loader and rendering the operating system unbootable).

Having two independent scans of your system will provide more conclusive results than just a single scan. While rootkits typically attempt to conceal their presence by modifying specific areas of your hard drive, a scanner must perform checks all across its surface.

When you have multiple results, it’s usually best to compare them against a known good reference. A simple way to do this is by creating your clean image and using that as the baseline for comparison. A commercial tool can also be used (as described below) if it appears trustworthy.

Rootkit detectors:

Rootkit detectors typically work in one of two ways. One method requires scanning each item on your computer from the hard drive itself (this involves far more time). Another approach involves first imaging your disk, so any modifications made after the process are not considered. It’s faster but less thorough than direct scans. In general, no-touch scanners utilizing pre- execution technologies to accomplish their scanning are more effective and accurate.

One note should be made about false positives. Since a rootkit scanner is looking for unknown files, any file that matches a known good image may be flagged as suspicious. This usually happens when you’re running an uncommon piece of software or your security configuration has been significantly altered from its default state. If this concerns you, having a second reference will help to confirm or deny these findings.

Rootkit scanners typically operate by performing comparisons at the file level (which is extremely slow), detecting discrepancies with signatures, and using statistical methods to determine whether there’s reasonable doubt surrounding a certain application or process (even if it has a valid digital signature).

Process monitor:

A process monitor is an effective way to look for unauthorized changes in the running environment. Such tools can be used to detect modifications made to legitimate programs by malware and any new processes that may have been added without your consent. Statistical methods are also sometimes employed in these utilities, which analyzes every operation and compares it with what’s typically expected. You should always read the documentation before downloading a rootkit scanner. This will help you understand how it works and whether or not it suits your needs. Some require high-level system access, while others function at the user level (allowing home users to run scans.

Rootkit scanners often rely on a database of known rootkits. You should always research the particular tool you’re using before initiating a scan to determine whether it has been updated recently and if it can detect the malware you have on your system.

WHEN SHOULD YOU CONDUCT ROOTKIT SCANNING?

A rootkit scan is necessary when you have reason to believe that your machine has been compromised and may not be working optimally or maybe even at all for some functions.

You should run a rootkit scan on your system if:

  • You are experiencing unusual problems with your operating system
  • Your internet connection isn’t working correctly
  • The battery life of your laptop seems to be draining faster than usual
  • Your anti-virus or firewall has suddenly stopped working
  • Someone else has been using your computer
  • You have recently downloaded software
  • One of your USB devices isn’t working
  • You want to know more about what’s going on
  • You should try to avoid a rootkit scan if:
  • Your system is already under heavy load
  • You are experiencing issues that may be due to a virus or malware infection

BENEFITS OF ROOTKITS SCANNING:

Once you perform a successful rootkit scan, benefits can include (but are not limited to):

  • Rootkits will be detected if they are present on the system, which will help keep your computer safe.
  • Rootkits will be detected if they are trying to alter any critical files or folders, which will help keep your computer’s performance optimal.
  • If rootkits have already gained access inside the operating system and you have not installed an anti-virus, experts suggest that you reformat the hard drive and reinstall the OS to keep the system clean.

CONCLUSION:

Users need to know what these rootkits can do when they manage to access your computer systems because it might result in data loss or even worse. Thus knowing how beneficial conducting rootkit scans can turn out to be a good thing for your system.

Rootkit scan software is very helpful in finding and removing harmful programs from your devices and servers which other anti-viruses cannot detect. This allows users to have peace of mind knowing that their devices are safe and secure from hackers.

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