A rootkit is a stealthy and dangerous malware that gives threat actors access to your computer network without authorization. This malware is dangerous as it hides from security systems to operate undetected.
Rootkit comes from two words: “root” and “kit.” “Root” represents “admin” or “system admin.” On the other hand, “kit” stands for a group of software tools. Going by this definition, a rootkit comprises the tools required to give threat actors access to admin privilege on a user’s device.
What Is A Rootkit?
A rootkit is a form of malware. It spreads using deceptive threat vectors such as spam emails and malicious downloads. Some rootkits can also use trojans to access the victim’s device.
Rootkits are also very stealthy. In some cases, rootkits will display a few, if any, signs of compromise. They can also bypass your device security and remain hidden without detection.
Unlike other forms of spyware, rootkits come with many capabilities. They can steal login credentials and financial data, turn off security measures, and record keystrokes, among other functions. Rootkits can also turn a user system into a bot to conduct a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.
Types Of Rootkits
The different types of rootkits include the following:
- Firmware rootkits – Firmware rootkits assume control over a hardware device. This type of rootkit is nearly impossible to detect as security solutions do not often search for malware in firmware.
- Bootloader rootkits – Bootloader rootkits target the Master Boot Record (MBR) or the Volume Boot Record (VBR) to boot up with a device’s operating system. Security tools monitoring the boot-up process detect this rootkit.
- Memory rootkits – Memory rootkits exist in the RAM. These rootkits clear by clearing the RAM and restarting the system. Memory rootkits affect the performance of a device.
- Kernel mode rootkits – A kernel mode malware can add new code to the operating system or alter the code. Kernel mode rootkits are complex but easy to detect using antivirus programs.
- User-mode rootkits – User-mode rootkits change the behavior of application programming interfaces (APIs). They gain top-level privileges to your device but are easy to detect.
Examples of Rootkits
The past five years have seen several incidents of rootkits. In 2018, LoJax became the first rootkit to infect the UEFI of a computer. LoJax rootkits persist after the system reboots because of its stealth mode of operation.
In 2019, the Scranos rootkit emerged, stealing user passwords and payment data stored within a browser. Scranos deploys malware to generate video revenue.
How to Detect And Remove Rootkits
Rootkits are stealthy in operation and are not easy to detect. Some signs of compromise to watch out for include:
- Applications and systems crash frequently
- Malfunctions when operating installed software like browsers
- Antivirus deactivating unexpectedly without cause
If you confirm the presence of rootkits, you should immediately remove them. Here are some tips to follow when doing this:
- Update your device and antivirus tools
- Restart your device in safe mode to avoid the rootkit deploying during boot-up
- Conduct a full scan of your device with an antivirus program
- Remove the compromised files from your device
- Monitor your device’s behavior
Rootkits can be challenging to detect and even remove from a device. Therefore, taking proactive measures to prevent compromise is advisable. Having a reliable antivirus security tool guarantees your device is always protected.
Additionally, ensure your device’s system remains up to date. It is paramount to be cautious when following links and opening emails from unknown sources, as these might contain malware.