What’s a Rootkit? According to the definition, a rootkit is a computer program that is designed to provide stealth and elevated access to a computer. The name rootkit comes from the words “root” and “kit”, where root is a superuser (elevated context) and kit goes by its literal meaning. It means that hackers, using rootkits can hide their presence in your system while being able to perform operations that a simple virus cannot do.
Most rootkits come already packed with malware. The rootkit has to cover up the presence of the virus, as well as give it an elevated context. A few famous examples of rootkits include the rootkit Zeus (packed with its own malware) and Dexter (packed with a malware as well). In fact, even Yahoo! Assistant (also known as 3721 Internet Assistant) is considered a rootkit.
Nowadays, rootkits are very elaborate and can provide more features than their previous generations, like hiding computer processes or making files undeletable. Moreover, they learned to adapt in a way that they cannot be removed, which makes it especially dangerous. That means if you have gotten a malware packed with a rootkit on your system, the only way to delete it would be overwriting your operating system with all your files.
The most common way to protect yourself from rootkits is usually by using Antivirus solutions. Not only they have databases of already existing malware, but they have also learned to detect previously unknown malware giving you an extra layer of security.
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