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An Overview Of Rootkits In Cybersecurity

By Tom Seest

What Is a Rootkit In Cybersecurity?

Rootkits are malicious software packages designed to infect computers, grant remote access and remain undetected until activated. Cybercriminals utilize them to launch attacks, listen in on users’ conversations, disable antivirus and security software, and steal banking credentials and financial data.
They pose a significant danger to cybersecurity as they are one of the most difficult types of malware to detect and eliminate, often staying undetected for years. Even some anti-virus programs may fail to detect them completely.

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What Is Malware In Cybersecurity?

Malware is software that acts maliciously on a computer or network, such as viruses, worms, Trojans, rootkits, adware, and spyware. It has the potential to steal information, disable security programs and install other malicious applications – some of which could launch DDoS attacks, send spam emails, or engage in phishing scams.
Cybercriminals often employ malware to create rootkits, giving them remote access to a computer or system. With this backdoor, they can spy on traffic, steal data, and take over an operating system in order to carry out illicit activities that are invisible to users.
In some instances, hackers can hide their activities within other processes and programs on a compromised computer in order to avoid detection by anti-malware software. Through hooking, these rootkits alter how the operating system interacts with other applications and hardware.
Another type of rootkit is known as a kernel-level rootkit, which exploits the operating system to grant remote control of a victim’s machine. These malicious tools are difficult to detect and eliminate due to how they manipulate the kernel to circumvent security measures designed to safeguard systems against malicious activity.
A third type of rootkit is a hypervisor, which installs itself beneath the target operating system and hosts the infected system as a virtual machine. This enables the rootkit to intercept all hardware calls made by the original operating system and is virtually impervious to detection by traditional anti-malware software programs.
RATs (Remote Access Toolkits) are a type of rootkit that grants malicious actors remote access to your computer. While originally developed for legitimate use, they’ve since been exploited by cybercriminals to take control of an infected device. RATs are particularly successful because their actions don’t appear in lists of running programs or tasks, and their actions are often mistaken for those of legitimate programs.
Most rootkits are spread through phishing campaigns or social engineering tactics that attempt to convince users they should grant permission for the malware to install on their computers. They may also be downloaded from untrustworthy websites or shared drives that have already been infected with other types of malicious software.

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What Is Firmware In Cybersecurity?

Firmware is a type of software embedded in all types of hardware, such as computers and routers, to allow it to communicate with the operating system and execute software commands correctly. Usually compatible with the make and model of the computer, firmware can also be rewritten or removed depending on circumstances.
Hackers can take advantage of firmware vulnerabilities to gain access to systems and steal data. These attacks are particularly hazardous since they give malicious actors the power to disrupt business operations, delete records, and more.
The US government is warning companies to take this threat seriously and update their firmware. It’s particularly essential for organizations with OT or ICS cybersecurity since firmware plays an essential role in how their devices function.
Cybercriminals can take advantage of a flaw in the firmware on your computer to install rootkits, which are extremely difficult to detect due to their hidden location within the operating system. This makes them difficult for antivirus and malware detection software programs to identify.
Rootkits come in many forms, but all share one common objective: giving hackers control over a computer. They can spy on users, redirect network traffic and disable devices; some even contain backdoors that grant them access to additional malware programs.
One way to detect rootkits is by looking for unusual process behavior or files that aren’t where they should be. Another approach involves monitoring the system calls that processes make.
For example, a rootkit could be concealing a script that sends data to a remote server which the malicious actor can use for gathering information or spreading malware. They are also capable of stealing files, altering user passwords, and accessing sensitive data.
Rootkits can also circumvent certain security measures, such as access control lists (ACLs). This enables malware to remain undetected by standard anti-malware tools.
Firmware is an especially vulnerable layer in computers, which is why many companies are beginning to pay more attention to it. Microsoft recently released the Secured Core PC, and HP has recently unveiled a line of PCs featuring more transparent firmware for better protection.

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What Is User Mode In Cybersecurity?

Rootkits are computer programs designed to grant continued privileged access to a system while concealing their existence from users and other processes. Furthermore, these malicious software packages may disable antivirus software, and steal sensitive information from an infected machine, and disabling antivirus protection can provide even further benefits.
Rootkits can range in scope from a single program that launches in user mode at system startup to an entire collection of malicious applications installed and run by a dropper. Depending on its type, rootkits may manipulate applications to gain administrative privileges, intercept system calls, filter process output, and take other actions designed to obscure their presence from antivirus and anti-rootkit software programs.
The most popular way a rootkit can enter a system is via email or an attachment. However, they can also be distributed through socially engineered methods.
Most of these malware types are notorious for their incapability to be detected and removed. This is because they often hide in areas of the system that are inaccessible to antivirus and anti-rootkit software programs.
Rootkits fall into two main categories: those that infect only drivers and memory and those which attack the entire computer. The latter tend to be detected more easily by antivirus and anti-malware programs but remain difficult to remove completely.
Kernel-mode rootkits are particularly destructive since they target an operating system and give attackers complete access to modify it and steal data. Furthermore, kernel-mode rootkits can slow down systems and disable network cards.
In many cases, malware detection programs can detect infections by monitoring process behavior and looking for unusual file locations. A malware detection program may also monitor system calls to detect when a process appears abnormal or hasn’t made a system call in some time.
Another important type of rootkit is the hypervisor rootkit, which permits threat actors to monitor communication between physical devices and virtualization systems within operating systems. This method of infiltration into networks by hackers is particularly common as it permits them to intercept traffic between hardware and the hypervisor as well as other devices connected to it.

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What Is a Backdoor In Cybersecurity?

A rootkit is a software package that grants cybercriminals persistent access to Unix-like systems, giving them complete control of the system. They can use this access for installing malware, exfiltrating data, or launching botnets.
Backdoors are an integral part of today’s cybersecurity landscape. They enable both unauthorized and authorized users to gain access to a computer, network, or software application. Once inside, backdoors can steal personal and financial information, install additional malware, hijack devices, and even launch ransomware attacks – all with the aim of extortion!
Create a backdoor on your device through several methods, such as hardware/firmware changes or malicious files. However, the most widespread is through malicious software installations – trojans, spyware, cryptojackers, keyloggers, and worms are just some of the potential threats that could be installed onto your device.
Another way to create a backdoor is through “vulnerabilities.” Vulnerabilities are software flaws that can be exploited by malicious hackers or cybercriminals.
Some vulnerabilities may be harmless, such as a “bug” that causes a program to malfunction or crash. But others could prove hazardous.
Sony’s music CDs were vulnerable to hackers exploiting a flaw that allowed them to steal customers’ private listening habits. This was accomplished through a hidden rootkit on the discs that rendered anti-virus and anti-spyware programs blind to this activity.
However, some vulnerabilities can also be used for good purposes. The NSA has encouraged manufacturers to include backdoors in their products as a means for government agencies to gain access to the data they contain.
One common form of backdoor is a kernel rootkit. These programs are designed to avoid detection and obscure internet traffic from both users and operating systems, giving attackers the opportunity to keep their rootkits hidden.
Kaspersky recently identified a rootkit that targets public-facing servers and establishes a command-and-control (C2) connection without leaving any malicious traces on the device. The backdoor relies on call hooking, redirecting normal code execution to an attacker’s code.
The backdoor’s ability to obscure its activities makes it ideal for malicious intent. Hackers can use it to siphon data, destroy critical infrastructure and cause havoc in countries around the globe.

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