Rootkits are growing as a major cause for concern among cybersecurity experts. Although their origins are very innocuous, they have been used for a variety of different malicious purposes. Rootkits basically allow hackers to gain access to computers and systems which allow authorized access only. These software tools have become incredibly popular as companies have started becoming more secure and hacking is increasingly getting complicated and difficult. Let us tell you what you need to know about Rootkits and how you can stay protected from them.
What Exactly are Rootkits?
In principle, Rootkits are not malware because they may be legally used by law enforcement agencies, businesses, and even private individuals. The primary purpose of Rootkits is to enable tracking and monitoring of user activities while they are logged on. Thus, they can be an important security and oversight tool for police and business enterprises if used correctly. Some parents also use Rootkits to track the actions of their children.
Unfortunately, Rootkits became widely popular for an entirely different purpose. They’re being used extensively by hackers to gain illegal access to computers. Also, Rootkits were primarily installed on devices using the infamous Trojan Horse malware. This has led them to be considered as a malware by default. However, it is the way in which the Rootkits are used that define them.
How Do Rootkits Infect Computer Devices?
Most popularly, Rootkits are used as spyware devices. They are very well-known across the world by cybercriminals. However, unlike automated malware of some other types, they cannot infect devices on their own. A cybercriminal will have to trick any internet user into installing a rootkit on their device.
This is most often done by making the victim believe that their device has been hacked. The cybercriminal subsequently tells the victim to inform install the rootkit to address the infection.
Another major reason why Rootkits have re-emerged as a popular hacking source is that they can create botnets.
These are essentially a large patch of files which are often used to convert a computer for mining purposes. Specifically, they are used for mining cryptocurrencies of specific types. They may also be used for launching Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks along with other kinds of cybercriminal activity.
Despite the fact that Rootkits can be very sophisticated, their most common point of entry is through human error. That is, a user is compelled to install this software on their own. This gives the software and its creators the access onto device, server, or even a network.
A common means for tricking victims into downloading Rootkits is via email or instant messaging apps. Once the Rootkit has been installed, it gives the hacker behind it complete access to the victim’s computer.
Is it Possible to Detect Rootkits After They Have Been Installed?
There is plenty of security software that can help detect viruses and other malware on your device. However, the same cannot be said for Rootkits. The reason for this is the sheer variety of Rootkits that are there in the market. It is simply not possible to search for all of these as security companies know little about them. By the time such Rootkits are detected, the device has already been infected considerably.
Another problem in detecting Rootkits is that they can lie fairly dormant. Mostly, users do not even know that their device has been infected. Aside from some anomalous activity, the device works just fine. If you want to know if there is a Rootkit on your system, then you can run a memory scan.
However, your memory scans will only be able to look for specific types of Rootkits. As such, there is no comprehensive way to detect all kinds of Rootkits out there.
The best and most practical way to detect Rootkit activity on your device is to observe. You should keep an eye on how your device performs over any given period of time. If your device has indeed by infected by Rootkits, then you will see problems in several areas. Most often, you will see problems in accessing key system files or will have to constantly reset firewall permissions. These are signs that your device has been infiltrated by a Rootkit software.
In case you find out that you have a Rootkit on your device, a complete purge is recommended. You need to delete the entire system because there is no way to measure how many files have been compromised.
How Can I Protect My Device from Rootkits?
Since removing Rootkits is a very tedious process, it is best to avoid them. Conventional antivirus software is mostly inadequate in providing protection as it works only after Rootkits have been installed. So, the imminent need for defense against Rootkits is to not allow them to enter your system.
If you are not willing to invest in online security devices, then safe browsing is the best way to avoid Rootkits. Be aware of all the latest type of scams and hacking techniques which are in the market. Also, you should understand the native security measure against any such attempts. Make sure your basic OS is up to date and in line with the latest technological developments.
VPNs or Virtual Private Networks are one of the few technologies that can effectively block Rootkits and other malware. However, not all kinds of VPN can be trusted. Try to get a VPN that offers a built-in firewall and a malware detector. Free VPNs don’t offer add-on features so make sure you get a reliable paid VPN.