What are Rootkits?
Rootkits are used by malware creators to slip hidden files onto your personal computer, helping the would-be criminals gain access to your data and your computer’s programs.
How do Rootkits work?
Rootkits are essentially built to help hide dangerous files, and can be in the form of an application or a group of applications.
If placed in the perfect area, a rootkit can hide out on your computer for months or even years.
While a rootkit is present, your data and your private information could be stolen by hidden viruses or spyware.
Once a rootkit is installed on your PC or Mac, you may not be able to trust what your computer says.
It could easily hide its secret activity by using undocumented functions of your operating system at a level typically reserved only for administrators.
Those who intend to use a rootkit for dangerous activity on your computer might have gained access by hacking your password or finding another backdoor into the system without your knowledge.
What do Rootkits do?
By hiding malicious content on your computer – for instance, a Trojan Horse or virus – rootkits help prevent anti-virus or anti-spyware programs from detecting threats to your system.
It’s important to know that not all rootkits on their own are dangerous, and some can actually be be used by legitimate applications.
How to get rid of Rootkits
Before trying to rid your computer of rootkits, remember that some may be a necessary part of your computer and its programs.
In 2005, a security expert learned that Sony had installed a rootkit on his computer.
This was done in the name of “digital rights management” for an audio CD. While the rootkit was created by a well-known company, experts worry even those rootkits could be exploited by hackers.
Regardless of who created the rootkit, the process is often considered unethical or a breach of privacy because users aren’t usually aware they exist.
There are several so-called “rootkit removers” on the market to help you find and rid your computer of them.
It’s important to find a program that will help you identify the required ones from the malicious ones.
AVG’s program has a built-in “Anti-Rootkit,” which can help you identify all rootkits on your system.
Microsoft’s security technologies also provide several options for removing rootkits, such as Windows Defender Offline.
The program, according to Microsoft, was created to keep up with the latest anti-malware updates from the Microsoft company.
It can be used on a personal computer that isn’t acting properly due to a possible malware infection.
An update of your firewall protection could also help keep hackers from regaining access to your system.
In some of the worst cases of rootkits, you may be required to reinstall your computer’s operating system and security programs.
Microsoft suggests you restore your data from backup after reinstalling.
If you’re comfortable with system operations and the inner-workings of your machine, ComputerWeekly.com offers an in-depth article titled “Rootkit and malware detection and removal guide,” which can point you in several directions based on your situation.
For the common computer user, a professional technician might be the best resource.
Avoiding rootkits is similar to the steps you take to avoid malware.
They’re often the result of viruses or Trojan Horses, so be cautious when you receive email attachments or other content from the Internet, especially sources you don’t know or that look suspicious.
Because the infection can be hidden so well, prevention is often considered the best line of defending your PC.