Everything You Need to Know About the Most Dangerous Security Threat

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By Jennifer Adams

Viruses are detrimental to the well-being of your computer just as they are to human health. One of the most malicious forms of malware is known as a rootkit.  These types of attacks are particularly challenging because they are almost impossible to detect and can go years undetected.  These complex viruses range from programs that steal passwords granting hackers access to banking and credit card information, to software that allows them to disable security software and track the taps of your keys. This is how rootkits infect your computer, a few types of rootkits hackers use, and how to tell if your computer has been infected by one.

          Rootkits are installed on the hard drive of a computer through a phishing attack. They are mostly targeted at computer programs, although some are targeted at the core operating system.  They are programmed to disable, and possibly remove the antivirus or antimalware software installed to protect the computer.  

1. Hardware/Firmware Rootkit

This rootkit is named for where the malware infects your computer. After infecting your computer’s hard drive or BIOS, the software spreads to a tiny memory chip in your computer’s motherboard. It can infect your router, memory chip, and network card. By affecting the hardware, hackers can monitor your online activities.

2. Bootloader Rootkits

          The bootloader is the part responsible for loading the operating system on your computer. If infected, the bootloader is replaced with an infected one allowing malware to be active before the operating system loads on the computer.

3. Kernel Rootkits

Kernel rootkits are unique because they target the very core of the operating system rather than just applications. This gives the hacker the ability to completely change the functionality of an operating system by inserting a code allowing them to intercept personal information. Although the impact on your operating system is noticeable, Kernel rootkits can be easier to identify and remove than other kinds of rootkits that alter more than the operating system.

4. Memory Rootkits

          By hiding on your computers RAM memory (random access memory) these rootkits carry out their harmful activities in the background. Fortunately, they have a short lifespan, so they disappear once you reboot your system and are not capable of inserting a permanent code. In more severe cases, further work is required to get rid of them, which is where a managed IT provider comes in handy.  

5. Application Rootkit

          Application rootkits are infected programs that replace legitimate files on the computer. This gives the hacker access every time the infected programs are operated. Fortunately, antivirus programs can easily detect these programs since they operate on the application layer.


          If your computer has been operating more slowly than normal, has low RAM, displays the incorrect time and date, and frequently shows the “blue screen of death,” then it may be infected with a rootkit. Modern cybersecurity software has evolved enough so that the best antivirus software can detect and remove rootkits, which is why having your network managed by an IT professional can best protect your business against these attacks plus and save money and downtime.







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