A rootkit is a stealthy computer program or a collection of software tools which gives a cybercriminal remote access to the affected system. It is designed to provide continued privileged access and to control a system while actively hiding its presence. Therefore, it is very important to remove the rootkit virus from your system. You can make use of best anti rootkit programs to get rid of rootkit virus and protect yourself from upcoming rootkits.

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The term rootkit is a collection of the two words – ‘root’ and ‘kit’.

Rootkits are generally associated with malware which includes Trojans, worms, viruses, etc. that conceal their existence & actions from users and other system processes.


Types of Rootkits

There are several types of rootkits categorized by the way the rootkit infects, operates or persists on the affected system. The various rootkits are:


  1. Kernel Mode Rootkit

A kernel mode rootkit changes the complete functionality of the operating system. This type of rootkit adds its own code and sometimes, its own data structures to parts of the OS core, known as the kernel.


  1. User Mode Rootkit

A user mode rootkit, also called an application rootkit, operates in the same way as an ordinary user program. It may be initialized like other ordinary programs during system startup, or it may be injected into the PC by a dropper. The method depends on the operating system.


For example, a rootkit in the Windows system typically focuses on manipulating the basic functionality of Windows dynamic link library files, but in a Unix or Linux system, an entire application may be replaced by the rootkit.


  1. Bootloader Rootkit

A bootloader rootkit, also known as bootkit, infects the master boot record of a hard drive or any other storage device associated to the target PC. Bootkits are able to disrupt the boot process and maintain control over the PC after booting. Hence, bootkits can easily attack systems that use full disk encryption.


  1. Firmware Rootkit

The firmware rootkit uses software present in the system firmware & installs itself in firmware images used by routers, network cards, BIOSes or other peripherals & devices.


  1. Memory Rootkit

Memory rootkit loads itself into system memory (RAM). Memory rootkit persists only until the system RAM is cleared, i.e., usually, after the computer is restarted.


What Can a Rootkit Virus Do?

A rootkit virus can cause several harmful effects on your system.

  • Once a rootkit has been installed, a cybercriminal can access and control your system without you knowing about it.
  • The rootkit can remotely execute your system files and change system configuration.
  • The rootkit virus can access log files and spy on the PC owner’s usage information.
  • Rootkits can spread infections such as keystroke loggers, remote control ware (also called botware), spamware and spyware.
  • Rootkits can hide in your virtual machine (VM) configurations which are used to create virtual networks on a system.
  • Most rootkits open a backdoor on the affected system to introduce malicious software such as viruses, Trojan, ransomware, keylogger or other types of malware.
  • Rootkits can lead to further network security attacks.
  • Rootkits attempt to prevent detection of malicious software by Antivirus software.
  • A rootkit can have malicious tools such as Antivirus disablers, keyloggers, credential stealers, password stealers, bots, etc. for distributed denial-of-service attacks.


How Rootkit Virus Attacks your System?

Rootkits can't spread by themselves. They depend on stealth mechanisms to infect systems. They are typically installed through the common methods used to spread any malicious software. These methods include email phishing campaigns, malicious PDF files or Word documents, malicious executable files, risky websites, etc.

Typically, rootkits spread by hiding in software programs that may appear to be legitimate. Rootkit tricks users into giving it permission to be installed on the user’s system, giving cybercriminals administrator remote access to the system. Then, the rootkit secretly installs and conceals itself until a hacker activates it.

Once installed, a rootkit gives the remote hacker access to the system and control every aspect of the operating system.


What are the Symptoms of Rootkit Virus?

One of the chief objectives of a rootkit virus is to avoid its detection in order to remain installed on the victim’s system. Therefore, rootkit developers aim to keep it undetectable, hence there may not be any detectable symptoms that flag a rootkit infection.

However, in some cases, the presence of rootkit can be detected. The few symptoms of rootkit virus infection are:

  1. Your Antivirus program stops working.
  2. Windows settings change automatically without any apparent action by the user.
  3. Unusual behavior such as changing or disappearing of background images in the lock screen, pinned items changing on the taskbar, etc. could also indicate a rootkit infection.
  4. Slow performance of the system or high CPU usage
  5. Browser redirects, etc.


How to Detect Rootkit Virus?

Detecting rootkits is a difficult task. There are no commercial tools available that can detect and remove all known and unknown rootkits. Rootkit virus detection requires specific add-ons to antimalware packages.

However, there are various methods to look for a rootkit on an infected machine.

The various detection methods for detecting rootkits include:

  • Behavioral-based methods (e.g., looking for any strange behavior on the computer system)
  • Signature scanning
  • Memory dump analysis
  • Static analysis


How to Prevent Rootkit Virus?

Follow the given preventive measures to prevent infection of rootkit virus:

  1. Keep your system patched against known vulnerabilities. This includes patches of your operating system, browsers, applications and virus definitions.
  2. Never click on URLs or open email file attachments from unknown sources.
  3. Be careful while installing free software and read the end-user license agreement carefully.
  4. Scan applications with a reputed antimalware program to detect threats including special and hidden-credential backdoors.
  5. Layer your security to include behavior & rootkit-level analysis technologies for protection.


How to Remove Rootkit Virus?

Use any of the following mechanisms to remove rootkit virus from your system:

  • One approach to removing the rootkit virus is to completely reinstall the operating system.
  • There are many rootkit detection tools available which offer rootkit scanners and other rootkit detection tools to easily and completely remove the rootkit.

Some free third-party rootkit scanners are also available in the market. However, care should be taken that the security software is provided by a reputable publisher as cybercriminals have been known to bundle and distribute malware through such security software.

Published by Harris Scott