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Rootkits Conquer PCs without Control

At security vendor Prevx, malware researchers on December 12 2007 pointed to a massive increase in computers infected with rootkit.

Prevx, which obtained its latest results by testing more than 725,000 end users' systems, found that about 14% of the company-owned computers had at least one kind of rootkit infection. InfoWorld published this on December 12, 2007.

Rootkit is a malware that other infections on a computer often bury or drop. The stealthy rootkit then makes changes to the infected computer's operating system to conceal itself from the user as well as the security products deployed on the system. The malware is able to dodge detection and acquire complete control over an infected PC to enable miscreants to remotely watch, record, alter, capture and transfer information keyed or saved on it.

No sooner is a rootkit installed, it disables computer firewalls and conventional security systems on the system. Most types of rootkits don't display any symptoms and therefore, remain wholly undetected by traditional anti-spyware and anti-virus software.

According to Prevx, in October 2007, 15.6% of computers were detected to have rootkit and the figure increased to 22% by early December this year.

Director of malware research for Prevx, Jacques Erasmus, commented in a press release of the company that the growth of rootkits has started. EMediaWire published the release on December 12, 2007.

According to the security vendor, 114,891 new computer owners using rootkit detection applications took effect from December 1, 2007. Of those computers, 1,678 still had significant rootkit contaminants. That is equivalent of approximately 1 in 70 computers making it 15 times more than the previously estimated 1 in 1,000 computers with rootkit infection.

During the first week or so of December 2007, Prevx's findings featured as many as 93 companies. Of that, 68 operated one or two infected computers and 13 companies ran one or two computers with rootkit infections.

Prevx's CEO, Mel Morris, put down in a research note that many computers might be harboring rootkits despite businesses and users using up-to-date anti-spyware and anti-virus products. InfoWorld published the note on December 12, 2007.

Related article: Rootkits Can Be Detected And Eradicated

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