Rootkits: How Can They Improve Online Safety?

by Barbara J. Feldman on August 12, 2009

When it comes to online safety, while threats we would do well to avoid abound, sometimes the biggest problem is trying to understand the threats and why we should avoid them or take steps to protect ourselves from them. However, before we can decide if we need to take certain steps to protect ourselves from a threat, we must first understand the issue so we can decide whether or not it is a threat. Along with understanding various threats to our safety online, we need to understand how they actually work so that we can distinguish threats from legitimate programs that can help us to improve online safety. The media focuses on how various threats online can be harmful to us, whether it be by stealing our identity or hurting our children. However, they fail to mention that some of the same class of programs that can be injurious to us by covertly stealing sensitive information, can also be used to help us improve online safety and our online experience. These programs are known collectively as rootkits.

Rootkits are software programs which allow one person to monitor, or spy on, another person’s computer, and control them, if they so desire, from a remote location down the block or hundreds of miles away without the other person knowing about it. Using a rootkit, a person can execute files, access log files, change the configuration of the computer and monitor activities that take place on computer.

Upon hearing the definition of a rootkit, most people believe that this kind of software’s only use is malicious; rootkits are typically used to hack into other people’s computers and steal their private information. This is the use you most likely hear about in the media. However, rootkits can be used for legitimate purposes as well though this software is usually referred to as internet security monitoring sofrware.

Parents use rootkits, or internet security monitoring sofrware, as tools to increase their children’s safety when they are online. Many parents realize they cannot watch their children constantly and, therefore, worry about what their children are doing on the computer or what they may be downloading. They find their solution in internet monitoring software which helps them monitor what their children are doing; rootkits are akin to internet monitoring software. By using a rootkit parents can actually access their home computer from a remote location to make sure that your children are using the computer properly and talking to people that you approve of.

Employers use rootkits to improve online safety because they can monitor what their employees are doing on their computers while they work. This helps prevent time theft. It can help to protect company computers from viruses and other threats that employees might accidentally download and, probably most importantly, it helps ensure that company computers are not able to be hacked by outside users.

Police and sheriff’s offices often use rootkits to monitor criminal activity which saves them time and money and can improve conviction rates.

If you decide to get this software for your home or office, research it under ‘internet security software’ not ‘rootkits’ because the latter won’t provide you with links to software you want to purchase. Rootkits are probably the only dual purpose software in existence.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Rootkits: How Can They Improve Online Safety?." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 12 Aug. 2009. Web. 31 Aug. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/598/rootkits-how-can-they-improve-online-safety/ >.