Rootkit Scanner: Detection and Removal

What is a Rootkit Scan?

Rootkit scans are the best attempt to detect a rootkit infection, possibly initiated by your antivirus solution. The challenge you face when a rootkit infects our PC is that your operating system may not necessarily be reliable in identifying the rootkit. They are quite devious and good at camouflage. If you suspect a rootkit virus, one of the best strategies to detect the infection is to shut down the computer and run the scan from a known clean system.

Rootkit scans also look for signatures, the same way they detect viruses. Hackers and security developers play this cat-and-mouse game to see who can find new signatures faster. A sure-fire way to find a rootkit is to perform a core dump scan. You can always see the instructions a rootkit performs in memory, and this is a place it can’t hide.Click here to download Free RAM Free Antivirus

What are the Different Types of Rootkit?

There are different types of Rootkit viruses such as bootkits, firmware rootkits, kernel level rootkits, and application rootkits.

BOOTKIT

This is a type of malicious infection that targets the Master Boot Record located on the computer’s motherboard.

FIRMWARE ROOTKITS

This type of virus hides in the hardware of a computer system such as a network card.

How Do Systems Become Infected with Rootkits?

It can be difficult to detect and remove rootkits. There is not a wide variety of off-the-shelf products that can completely find and remove rootkits from a system. However, there are a number of ways that users can search for a rootkit on an infected machine. These include:

  • Behavior-based methods: Use behavior-based methods to check for strange behavior that could lead to a rootkit on your computer, such as slow operating speeds, strange network traffic, or other strange, non-normal patterns of behavior for your computer.
  • Core dump analysis is an effective way to detect recruits lurking in system memory. By analyzing the memory dump data, you should be able to locate it.
  • Signature Scan – Rootkit scans will look for signatures left behind by hackers and identify if there is any foul play on the network. They should be run on a clean, separate computer when an infected computer is powered off.

Computer systems can be infected with rootkits in a number of ways. One of the most common ways to infect systems with a rootkit is to visit a malicious website that exploits another vulnerability residing on the user’s computer system and installs the rootkit. It can also happen if the user connects an infected USB drive or other media container to the system that exploits a known or unknown vulnerability and infects the system with the rootkit. Viruses and other malware also play a role in the rootkit scenario. Many rootkits include commands to download the rootkit from a remote source and install it using the user’s technology.

Well-Known Rootkit Examples

  • Lane Davis and Steven Dake – wrote the first known rootkit in the early 1990s.
  • NTRootkit – one of the first malicious rootkits targeting the Windows operating system.
  • HackerDefender – this early trojan modified / upgraded the operating system to a very low level of function calls. 
  • Machiavelli – the first rootkit targeting Mac OS X appeared in 2009. This rootkit creates hidden system calls and kernel threads.
  • Greek wiretapping – In 2004/05, intruders installed a rootkit that targeted Ericsson’s AX PBX.
  • Zeus- first identified in July 2007, is a Trojan horse that steals banking information by recording keystrokes and entering forms.
  • Stuxnet – the first known rootkit for industrial control systems
  • Flame – a computer malware discovered in 2012 that attacks computers running the Windows operating system. It can record audio, screenshots, keyboard activity, and network traffic.

Rootkit Detection

It is difficult to detect rootkits. There is no commercial product available that can find and remove all known and unknown rootkits. There are different ways to find a rootkit on an infected machine. Detection methods include behavior-based methods (for example, finding strange behavior on a computer system), signature analysis, and core dump analysis. Often the only option to remove a rootkit is to completely rebuild the compromised system.

Rootkit Protection

Many rootkits enter computer systems by being superimposed on trusted software or a virus. You can protect your system from rootkits by making sure it is kept up to date against known vulnerabilities. This includes fixes for your operating system, applications, and up-to-date virus definitions. Do not accept files or open email attachments from unknown sources. Be careful when installing the software and read the end user license agreements carefully.

This article covers the answers to some of your frequently asked questions:

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