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What is Rootkit and How to Prevent yourself from such Malware.


Rootkit has been around for nearly 20 years now, allowing hackers/attackers to get access to user machines and steal data without being detected for long periods of time.

In the recent month, a malicious campaign had been identified where a Chinese hacker dropped Rootkit in 50,000 servers (containing Windows MS-SQL and PhpMyAdmin server around the world).

In 2019 we are hearing various attack names like trojans, viruses, worms, malware, ransomware. But have you heard about the threat named “Rootkit”?

Today, we’re going to learn in detail about Rootkit and spread the awareness about it before it lurks on any computer and steals data.

What is Rootkit?

A rootkit is a software program that is typically malicious in nature, which gives a threat actor remote root-level access to and controls a computer while hiding its presence on that machine. In simple words, Rootkit is a malicious activity where an attacker can see all the activity without been notified by the user of the machine.

It’s like a secret agent (i.e. rootkit) who has infiltrated your country (i.e. computer) to get continuous privilege access while hiding their identity. If not identified for years can destroy and create chaos in the country.

The term rootkit has been derived from two words “root” and “kit”. A rootkit was a collection of tools that were used to enable administrator-level access to a computer/network. Root referred to the admin account on Linux and Unix system, whereas kit referred to software components that implemented the tool.

What can a rootkit do?

A rootkit attack can be very dangerous, as it can do almost anything to the affected computer without been discovered. A rootkits boots at the same time or before the computer’s operating system boots, which makes difficulty in detecting it.

Below are some of the points that rootkit can do to affect the user.

  1. Can install other malware on the affected computer.
  2. Steal important information like user-name, password, credit card information and other sensitive data.
  3. Deleting the operating system code or other files on a machine.
  4. Eavesdropping activity and intercepting personal information.
  5. Alter system configuration, disable security application, etc.




Different types of Rootkit

There are several types of rootkits that can be installed on a target machine. Below are some of the examples:

1)  User-mode or application rootkit –

User mode rootkit is also referred to as application rootkit. These rootkits start as a program during machine boot-up and depend upon the operating system, which operates various ways to intercept and modify the standard behavior of APIs. In terms of user privileges, user-mode rootkits rank the lowest.

2) Hardware/Firmware Rootkits –

These rootkits affect the hardware or firmware such as routers, network cards, hard drives and system’s basic input operating software (BIOS).

3) Bootkits

These rootkits gain control of a machine by infecting the master boot record (MBR). In simple terms, it affects the targeted machine when the system boots up.

4) Memory Rootkits –

These types of rootkits are inside the computer’s RAM (random access memory). These rootkits are for a shorter period and most of them while disappearing once the system reboots.

5) Kernel-mode Rootkits –

These rootkits target the innermost circle of the protecting ring. They infect the core operating system which makes it dangerous. These rootkits have all the access and can modify data, delete files, alter the setting and steal sensitive data.

How to detect Rootkit and remove.

A rootkit was difficult to detect for which they were very dangerous. However, there are anti-malware tools that scanned and detected rootkits. But they could not detect all types of rootkits.

Another method to detect rootkit is quite expensive for organizations. These methods include signature scanning, firewall, and event log analysis.

But if you are a small organization and can’t spend much on security, then the only option is to reinstall the operating system of the affected machine.

A rootkit infection can start even from a PDF or Word document.

Best Practices to Protect Your Endpoint Devices from Rootkits

1) Read Email twice and look at the grammar used in an email before clicking any link.

Phishing Email is one of the favorite weapons of the attacker. That’s because they just send you an email and the rest of the things are done by the targeted user. Phishing email led to download somethings on your computer, these packages come with rootkits. There are many different types of phishing emails that claim to be legitimate by giving a warming message, exciting offers, or login issues.

You should always check the header and sender email address before clicking on any links. Also, must read the email twice, as phishing email has grammatical errors. Recently Paypal Phishing & Spoofing scam took more than login credentials.

2) Download Authorized Computer Drivers.

Computer drivers are the most common entry point of a rootkit in the targeted system. Hence, you should always use an authorized computer driver only.

3) Update OS, Browser and Security Software.

These points may not look better or may sound illogical. But the user must keep their OS, Browser and Security Software up to date from preventing yourself from rootkit attack.


Rootkits are one of the most dangerous types of malware threats out there. If a BIOS flash is not able to remove the rootkit, then you just might have to throw away the affected PC and just see which hardware components, if any, you can reuse.

The best treatment of a rootkit infection is to prevent one from happening. Start taking preventing measure now by having a firewall, running anti-malware software, using authorized hard drives and so on.

Contact us if you require any device to secure your environment with a cybersecurity solution.

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