What is Rootkit?

There are certain malware programs that are more dangerous than the others because of the level of havoc they create and the difficulty in detecting them. Other than the Ransomware and Trojans, most organizations are afraid of the Rootkits.

Let us understand what Rootkit is, why it is considered one of the most dangerous cyberattacks, how it can be utilized, and how to prevent a Rootkit attack on your system.

What is Rootkit

A Rootkit is a malicious computer program that provides the root level, i.e., the admin-level privileges, to the attacker behind it. The term Rootkit is derived from two words, Root and Kit. Root means the complete control of the operating system, and Kit implies the collection of tools. So collectively, the term Rootkit means a collection of tools for getting full access to a system.

Through a Rootkit, the attacker can get complete control of your PC, change its settings, and perform other malicious tasks remotely. A Rootkit contains a number of malicious tools for performing different tasks like collecting the bank details and additional sensitive information, blocking the security programs like antivirus to become undetectable, bombarding irrelevant ads, and more.

The reason Rootkit is considered as one of the most dangerous malicious programs is because of its stealth ability. After getting the root access of your system, it can hide deep into your operating system and would remain active without getting detected. Since it can control your system like an admin, the security programs can be easily disabled or manipulated.

How can Rootkit be used

Using a Rootkit, its controller can perform many malicious tasks. Following are some of the common practices for which a Rootkit is used −

  • To gain full access to the system and control it remotely.

  • Act as a backdoor for other malware entry such as Trojans, Spyware, or others

  • To create a network of Botnet

  • Use the computation power of the device to perform illicit tasks such as DDoS attacks, cryptojacking, and more.

  • Hide illegal files on the infected system

  • To manipulate the security programs so that it cannot detect dangerous malware like Spyware, Ransomware, and similar others.

  • It is also used in piracy. Microsoft products like MS Office can be unlocked using a dedicated Rootkit. Similarly, other paid software can also be pirated.

Though Rootkits are mainly used for malicious purposes in modern times, they were and can be used for some positive tasks too. Here are some of the positive ways a Rootkit can be used −

  • Many software development companies use Rootkits for implementing Digital Rights Management (DRM). The DRM prevents the illegal distribution and modifications of software, games, videos, and others.

  • Rootkits can be used for protection against theft. Through it, the device owner can get backdoor entry to it and swipe all the data in case the device is stolen.

  • Some security experts can utilize the Rootkit for monitoring the health of the system or network and plan the rescue in case of a threat.

How to defend against a Rootkit

Since Rootkit is challenging to detect and can remain hidden into the system, it becomes almost impossible to control it after its infiltration. A Rootkit attack can be highly hazardous to the system or the organization. It is better to be protective against it rather than dealing with it after the attack. Here are the preventive tips to defend against Rootkit attacks −

  • Keep your operating system and applications updated: Never ignore the security and cumulative updates of the Windows 10 systems. They are meant for fixing security loopholes and other bugs. Similarly, it is necessary to keep your system applications updated so that all security vulnerabilities are fixed, and cyber attackers could not take advantage of them to release malware like Rootkits.

  • Follow the healthy browsing habit: Many people have a habit of clicking on the links without knowing the source behind them. It is essential to know that just clicking on a malicious link can initiate the drive-by download, and most malware programs are introduced in a similar fashion. It is always advised to follow healthy browsing practices and never click on any unknown links, pop-ups, banner ads, and other things on the internet.

  • Never open an email from an unknown sender and download its attachments: Emails are one of the most common ways to spread malicious content. Cybercriminals pretend to be the genuine sender by using a familiar email id and send you emails with malicious links and attachments. Just clicking on the links and downloading the attachments can introduce malware like Rootkits or Ransomware.

  • Keep installed a Robust Antimalware Program: Though most Rootkits are designed to deceive the security programs, some advanced antimalware programs can detect and block the Rootkit before it makes an entry into your system. It is highly recommended to get an all-rounder antimalware program for the total protection of your system.