In the world of malicious programs, rootkits pose the greatest risk of harm and damage to computer systems. This is because they are designed to take over the entire system. When they do, they can then move to deactivate antivirus software, something that makes them even harder to both detect and remove.
Therefore, if your computer starts slowing down for seemingly no reason, or if you start noticing anomalies like encountering the blue screen of death, chances are that you may have a rootkit infection. It may have infected your computer as a result of a successful phishing attack. It may also be as a result of a social engineering campaign. Here are the most common examples of rootkits that you need to know about.
User Mode Rootkits
A user mode rootkit works by infecting the files of common applications like Paint, Excel and Notepad. Since they infect the executable files of applications, they are usually activated as soon as a user runs any standard application. And while the user can still use the program as usual, as soon as they run the application, the rootkit gives the hackers a degree of control.
Since these malicious applications only infect applications, they are relatively easier to detect. They are also common and can be handled by a good antivirus program. Some of the widely known rootkits that fall in this category include Hacker Defender, Aphex, and Vanquish. And if you are looking for more information about how to get rid of these rootkits and other types of viruses, you can find the most news about antiviruses here. Getting rid of them as early as possible before they have the chance to cause extensive damage is advisable.
Kernel Mode Rootkits
Kernel mode rootkits are a little bit trickier to detect. This is because, unlike user mode rootkits, they go a little deeper towards the core. These malicious programs target the operating system. As a result, once they succeed in infecting your system, they can automatically add functionalities, remove others, and can even cause your computer to download, upload and even install other malicious applications.
A good example of a kernel mode rootkit is the Zero Access rootkit of 2011. This malicious program has successfully infected over 2 million computers. And while it had the ability to access and steal data, it specialized in recruiting computer systems into a network that was designed to be used by hackers. Once it attacked a system, it would start to quietly download and install malware in the system. The additional malware would then modify the system and then transform it into a tool for cyberattacks around the world. This will then make your system a part of a malicious network of computers.
Instead of attaching themselves to files in a computer system, bootloader rootkits take a unique approach of infecting boot records. By infecting the Volume Boot Record and the Master Boot Record of a system, these malicious programs gain access that is significant enough to allow them to destroy your computer by simply injecting a few lines of code.
Choosing to infect the boot records also makes them less vulnerable to detection or removal since most antivirus software programs are not designed to focus on boot records when scanning for malicious code. Stoned Bootkit, Rovnix, and Olmasco are examples of rootkits that primarily target boot records of computer systems.
As the name suggests, these rootkits target the memory of a computer system. They attack the RAM and they generally use up a computer’s resources as they seek to execute their malicious code. As a result, they are mainly characterized by a computer that slows down significantly.
The only good news with respect to these rootkits is the fact that they tend to “die-off” faster. Generally, they are not designed to infect a system permanently. This is because of the fact that they specialize in infecting the RAM, and so as soon as a reboot is performed, they vanish.
Firmware rootkits are typically the hardest types of rootkits to get rid of. This is because they can infect the BIOS of your system, its router, hard drive, and other types of hardware that make up your computer system. Given they infect the core of the system, they pose the greatest potential harm to a computer system, going as far as being able to record keystrokes, monitor online activity, and execute other types of highly intrusive violations.
A good example of this type of rootkit is the one that was used in 2008 by criminals in Pakistan and China. They used the firmware rootkit to mine the credit card information of their targets and then to send that information to hackers. By the time it was done, the rootkit had caused losses of tens of millions of dollars.