A rootkit is a type of computer malware that has the capability to hide the presence of other malicious software, including additional malware and processes. It is typically installed on a computer through a computer virus, trojan horse or modified legitimate program.
Rootkits can be used for a wide range of purposes, including spying on users by revealing their personal data, encrypting files so that they cannot be accessed, or even allowing access to the entire operating system itself.
How It Works
A rootkit often gains control of an entire layer of the operating system, allowing it to hide data files and processes that are known as kernel objects.
Rootkits work by modifying existing parts of the operating system with malicious code to fool other software into thinking they are not there.
Once installed, rootkits begin running immediately, giving them time to set up and go undetected before antivirus programs can start. This is because rootkits run at a much lower level in the operating system than any program or process that could be designed to find them.
Effects on Users
As a rootkit scours the hard drive for information with which to reveal the identity of the computer’s owner, there is a chance this information could be revealed to an outside source. This breach of privacy can allow hackers or criminals to steal personal details, use them for identity theft, or destroy the user’s financial life.
In addition, even if the rootkit does not do this, there is still a risk of hackers gaining access to important files on your hard drive. The rootkit poses an extreme security threat because it gives intruders full control over your computer without requiring them to take any action other than installing the rootkit in the first place. This means that malicious users can easily cause damage by downloading and running unverified programs from the internet onto your computer.
Rootkits are very difficult to detect with antivirus software because they embed themselves deep into parts of Windows that are not scanned for malware. They cannot be removed entirely through typical antivirus removal tools either unless these tools happen to know exactly where the rootkit has located itself.
Professional-grade detection software is one of the few methods that can successfully root out all types of hidden malware, including rootkits. Even though rootkits are usually present in the deepest level of your operating system, special antivirus programs known as “deep cleaners” can remove them once you allow them access to every level of your computer’s kernel.
However, it is important not to confuse these deep cleaners with regular antivirus software. While they both use similar techniques for removing viruses and other types of malware, traditional virus removal tools will never be able to detect or remove a rootkit unless it has been updated before being allowed into the operating system itself. This means that these programs may miss many types of rootkit malware if they are not being actively monitored by the appropriate level of virus protection at all times.
Other things to watch for:
- Your antivirus software is no longer working or showing errors when it scans for viruses or malware.
- Allowing any new programs to have full access to your operating system without requesting permission first.
- You don’t remember installing any new programs before these problems occurred and you can’t find where they came from.
- Any programs on your computer begin opening at unusually slow speeds or show significant delays in use after you start them up.
Frequently Asked Questions About Rootkits
Who is responsible for creating rootkits?
Because they operate at such an advanced level within computers, most types of rootkits come from malicious groups or individuals while others may originate from individual programmers who want access to someone’s personal computer.
Rootkits often originate from programmers who want to make illegal copies of media or software in use on a computer but may also prove useful for hackers and criminals who want to access private information without being detected. In addition, these rootkits can be used by government agencies that need constant access to your computer even if it is turned off.
How do you know if your computer has rootkits?
There is no way to know for certain that a rootkit is installed on your system unless you scan with security software that can detect hidden threats. This means that the only sign of a possible rootkit infection may be the appearance of malware or errors in your antivirus program when it tries to identify existing threats. Detecting these types of infections through other methods is impossible since they are not always active.
What should you do if you suspect that your computer has rootkits?
If there are any signs at all of suspicious activity on your computer, including slowdowns during use, random popups, failure to load applications correctly, or anything else unusual, you will need to have your computer checked out by a professional. Attempting to remove any type of rootkit malware yourself is not only very difficult, but it can also lead to unintentional system damage if you are not careful or know what you are doing.