Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash
Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Rootkits and Bootkits—What are They?

Rootkits and bootkits are malicious software that launch attacks at different points of your network’s process. 

If you use the internet (and you likely do) without equipping yourself with a malware protection tool, you may be susceptible to acts of cybercrime.   

Rootkits and bootkits can wreak havoc on an unsuspecting user’s computer, so it’s important to know what they are and how to protect yourself from possible attacks. 

Let’s examine these digital threats more closely and review the specifics behind rootkit technology, its potential dangers, and ways that you could avoid becoming a victim.

What is a Rootkit? 

A rootkit is malicious software (malware) designed to gain access to your computer without your knowledge or permission. 

Rootkits give an attacker control over your system by hiding from detection. The attacker can then use the rootkit to hide other malicious activities like logging keystrokes, stealing data, or launching attacks against other systems using the same network. 

Different Rootkits 

Rootkits come in several forms: user-mode rootkits, kernel-mode rootkits, hybrid rootkits, and firmware rootkits. 

Each type of rootkit works differently but has the same goal—to remain undetected while allowing attackers to access your system. 

User Mode Rootkits—These are the most common rootkits because they are easier to develop than others. They run in user mode, which means they have access to system memory but not all processes running on the system. 

Criminals typically opt for user-mode rootkits for password theft and other malicious activities. 

Kernel Mode Rootkits—Kernel mode rootkits run at a higher level than user mode and have access to more processes on the system. This makes them more powerful and more challenging to develop because they require advanced coding skills. 

They’re typically used for hiding files or manipulating system settings without detection. 

Hybrid Rootkits—Hybrid rootkits combine elements from user and kernel modes to increase their effectiveness. 

Attackers typically use firmware rootkits for stealing data or creating backdoors into systems that would otherwise be inaccessible because of security protocols.

What is a Bootkit?

A bootkit is a rootkit designed explicitly for attacking computers during the start-up or reboot process, known as “booting” up your computer system. 

A bootkit does its dirty work before the operating system can load, allowing access to areas typically inaccessible by other malicious applications or services. 

A bootkit is often the attack of choice for attackers who want complete control over your computer’s hardware and software resources. Criminals can use bootkits to modify boot configuration data (BCD), which makes it difficult for security researchers to determine where the issue is.

Bootkits are more undetectable for anti-virus programs since they operate in a low-level environment where few tools exist for detecting malicious code.

Final Thoughts: Malware Protection is Key

Keeping your system secure from rootkits and bootkits is crucial for anyone who wants to keep their device safe. 

Proper malware protection can prevent malicious code from taking control of your applications, spying on you, or stealing sensitive personal data. 

Fortunately, there are measures you can take to prevent infections—from configuring automatic updates and downloading proven anti-malware software to making sure all accounts have strong passwords. 

While these steps won’t guarantee protection, they’re a good start in defending against rootkits and bootkits. 

Remember to review your device’s activity logs periodically and investigate anything suspicious to detect potential intrusions before they can cause damage.