The low-down on low-level rootkits

A new post from Microsoft's malware blog offers statistics and details about the insidious stealth malware.

Rootkits, a type of stealth technology used by malware malefactors, attempt to hide in the dark corners of an infected PC and evade detection. A new post out today from the Microsoft Malware Protection Center shines the spotlight on the evil tools.

As noted in Microsoft's post, "getting hit by a live rootkit infection is among the more unfortunate fates that can befall an unsuspecting computer user." The company says it found low-level rootkits in about 7 percent of the infected computers it encountered. Low-level rootkits are those that attempt to modify the core of an operating system to hide its components, along with other installed malware.

The post covers the most commonly found rootkit families, and lists some of the places where rootkits commonly install files. As notes, those files will likely be hidden from normal view on an infected system, and require using a specialized rootkit scanner such as AVG Anti-Rootkit. Many antivirus programs also include rootkit scanners.

Rootkits can be highly difficult to remove once installed, as stated in Microsoft's blog. Your best bet by far is to practice good basic security and catch them before they can dig in.

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