Rootkit 101

by Barbara J. Feldman on August 9, 2009

A rootkit is that it is a computer software program which allows someone to spy on someone else’s computer from a remote location. Using a rootkit allows you to have full access to the other person’s computer, meaning you can make any changes you want, record keystrokes and change passwords; meanwhile the person whose computer has been overtaken has no idea they’re being spied on because a rootkit is very hard to detect. In order to better understand what a rootkit is, what it does, how it does it and what you can about it, there are a few things you need to know.

First, keep in mind that rootkits are used mainly for illegal purposes by hackers, and other people with malicious intent, to gain access to personal information from your computer which they, in turn, typically use to steal your identity. However, there is internet security monitoring software, also referred to by some as rootkits, that is used by law enforcement to gather information about suspected predators online. Parents and employers sometimes use the software to monitor activity; employers like to know what their employees do on their work computers during and after work hours and parents use it to help them protect their children from possible online threats such as sexual predators in chat rooms.

Secondly, rootkits are very hard to detect on your computer. Because anti-virus and anti-spyware software will not automatically detect and remove rootkits from you computer, you need to know your computer or look for software that will detect specific rootkits, kernel rootkits, for example. If you notice suspicious activity on your computer or with your e-mail or other online accounts, the likelihood that something is amiss and your computer is infected with something, possibly a rootkit, is high. However, at this time, there isn’t an all-encompassing rootkit detection and removal software made.

If your computer has been infected with a rootkit, the best thing that you can do to get your computer back is to erase your hard drive and, essentially, rebuild your computer. Reformatting your computer will also ensure that all traces of the rootkit are gone. The only reason why this extreme method is recommended as a solution for ridding your system of a rootkit is because it is very difficult to verify that you’ve been able to remove all traces of the rootkit and erasing your system entirely gets rid of everything including the rootkit, so your system is no longer vulnerable.

To avoid getting a rootkit in the first place, if you have not done so, install a comprehensive anti-virus, anti-spyware software program on your system. If you have anti-virus, anti-spyware software on your computer, it is impertative that you keep it updated constantly. Either way, keep your system and programs updated because many rootkits attach themselves to known threats or viruses and then install themselves on your computer.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Rootkit 101." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 9 Aug. 2009. Web. 17 Sep. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/596/rootkit-101/ >.