How to protect yourself from Rootkits?
Rootkits compromise a network in a way that allows the threat actors to return as they please. You can exfiltrate, remove files, or plant other malware. This is how to stay away from it.
What are Rootkits?
Rootkits are a particularly dangerous malware type. They are really hard to spot and harder to get rid of. In addition, the threat actor gives the machine immense control, including the right to come and go as they wish. This positions long-term monitoring and thoroughly understanding the hazard players.
Rootkits are not new. It is since the early 1990s that the first rootkit for SunMicrosystems’ SunOS Unix operating system was created. This is seen in the name. The “root” section refers to the Unix-like system administrator and the “kit,” which defines the array of the program resources needed to use the exploit.
The first rootkit specifically built for the Windows operating system was a malware piece called NTRootkit. It was founded by Greg Hoglund, a security researcher, to foster interest in developing defenses against such attacks.
The creation of rootkits for IoT devices has been a recent innovation. This is partially due to the incredible proliferation of IoT products. The more the hazard players are targeted at, the happier they are. However, the real reason cybercriminals find them so enticing is that the majority of IoT stuff systems lack good security — sometimes protection at all.
Any point of entry is useful for an actor of danger. IoT systems also have the worst security features of any networked system. They are internet-faced, Wi-Fi-connected, and almost definitely not isolated from the main corporate network. If the compromised IoT system doesn’t suit your network needs, they can easily find a better position and switch to another spot.
How are rootkits installed on a system?
Rootkits like viruses and worms cannot be self-replicated. They must be spread by certain other channels such as social engineering attacks such as phishing emails, compromised websites, or USB drops.
Phishing campaigns send out fraudulent emails that mask legitimate trusted sources as emails. The emails are written carefully. You try to compel the recipient to click on a connection or open an infected file.
The attachment includes a software piece called a dropper. When installed it will download another payload from servers of the threat actor—the rootkit itself. Phishing emails without attachments include links to the victim’s compromised websites. These websites use unregulated browsers to infect the machine of the victim.
A USB drop is an assault that is more targeted. Infected USB memory keys are left in positions of the targeted organization’s workers. Usually, the USB memory key is connected to a series of keys. This begins a sequence of events to locate the keys’ holders.
Naturally, nobody comes to assert them. Sooner or later, someone inserts a USB memory key on a device in order to seek information to identify the user. PDFs or other files on the USB memory key tend to be masked programs. In reality. When you try to open one of them, you infect your machine
Trojan methods can also be used. This is where the threat actors repackage an innocent software program in another installation routine. The installation of the program seems to proceed as planned, but the rootkit and the application have been installed. The cracked and pirated torrent site software is typically Trojan.
What Rootkit Does?
Dig deep in rootkits. The dropper will hide in the bios or UEFI, and the driver simply installs the rootkit again even if the hard drive is cleaned. It appears that rootkits will magically withstand the reformatting of the hard drive entirely or even swap the hardware and mount a brand new hard drive.
A rootkit is built such that it seems to be an indispensable and valid part of the operating system itself. Endpoint protection systems can avoid identification, endpoint protection software can be disabled, and strategies to avoid their elimination can be used even though they have endpoint protection software. Since it has rootkits at the administrator’s stage, and therefore the threat actors can do whatever they want.
Threat actors like rootkits in particular because of their private backdoor. It’s like a house intruder. If you have to select the lock every time you try to get access, you will sooner or later be found. However, if they have their own key or know the keyboard entry code, they can come and go at will. The average time in 2020 was 200 days from infection to diagnosis and containment. That is why rootkits are listed as continuing advanced threats.
A rootkit can do one of these things:
Install a Backdoor: allows threatening actors to access the network quickly repeatedly.
Install Other Malicious Software: Rootkit can install additional malware like software keylogging. The aim is to obtain authentication credentials for online banking, other payment sites, and other services of interest to cybercriminals.
Once the threat actors have chosen to milk as much of your network as possible, they will install ransomware. It is becoming increasingly popular for a network to be hacked and for sensitive information to be expelled before the ransomware attack.
If the victim has a comprehensive disaster recovery mechanism in place and does not pay for the ransom, cyber-criminals risk revealing private information publicly.
Read, copy, exfilter, or remove files: nothing is private or immutable while it is on your network.
Device Configurations Change: Rootkits alter system settings to hide from endpoint security and appear legitimate to other operating system components. It will amend the settings to allow the highest level of administrative rights and the lowest level of operating system functionality to communicate.
Open and edit log files: rootkits can modify system logs to prevent them from being found or investigated.
Logging and tracking Keystrokes: Logging Keystrokes is a simple and reliable way to capture local systems and online passwords. Everything you type goes through the same keyboard after all.
Who is Behind Rootkits?
Rootkits are highly advanced code bits. The development of an efficient rootkit goes beyond the typical cybercriminal capacity. Rootkit toolkits are however accessible on the Dark Web. Those put in the hands of any fairly competent programmer the power of rootkits. The GitHub contains proof of concept code showing rootkit techniques.
A rootkit takes a lot of time and high-level programming experience to write from scratch. State-sponsored offensive cybergroups — APT units — are classified as rootkits for their military or other organizations. The Drovorub rootkit is a recent example. A recent example is a Drovorub rootkit. National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) attribution for this has identified the Russian 85th Main Special Service Center (GTsSS)—also known as APT28 and Fancy Bear—as the group behind the threat.
Types of Rootkits
Rootkits can be classified according to some of their behaviors. The more common variants are:
- Kernel rootkits: These operate at the kernel level. The rootkit obtains all of the privileges granted to the operating system.
- Application rootkits: These function at the application level. Typically, they replace or modify applications modules, files, or code. This enables the rootkit and cybercriminals to pose as normal, permitted software.
- Memory rootkits: These operate in Random-Access Memory (RAM). Because they run in RAM they do not leave any digital footprints or file signatures on the hard drive.
- Bootkit: A bootkit—or bootloader kit—is a rootkit that affects the operating system boot loaders such as the Master Boot Record (MBR). These are initialized while the computer powers up and before the operating system are fully loaded. This makes their removal extremely difficult.
- Library rootkits: These rootkits behave like a kernel patch or hook. They either block or intercept and modify, system calls. They may also replace Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs) in Windows-based systems or libraries in Unix-like operating systems.
- Firmware rootkits: These affect firmware on network devices. This gives the threat actors’ control of the device. From this foothold, the threat actors can move onto other networked devices and computers.
Detection and removal
Sudden unexplained crashes or very poor performance may imply a rootkit. Poorly engineered rootkits built on the Dark Web tool kit’s “self-assembly” can lead to instability in your system. Since rootkits communicate with the operating system kernel and other modules to the lowest level, system instability can easily be induced by rootkit bugs.
Rootkits are notoriously difficult to identify because they can hide from safety suites. Some of the highly renowned end-point protective suites state that some rootkit variants can be identified, which is useful.
Safety software that uses conduct analysis techniques will generate an image of your computer’s proper activity and network habits for various types of roles your users have. Deviation from anticipated actions may be a rootkit predictor for your system. It should be noted that without high-end detection systems, advanced intervention is typically possible to positively identify and eliminate a rootkit compromise.
Security audit software uses system-critical file reference fingerprints. The program is designed to periodically search your computer. Differences between the files on the disk and their reference signatures mean that they have changed or removed the files. These irregularities have been investigated. This technique can identify files, kernel patches, DLLs, and drivers that have been changed or replaced. The Lynis open-source kit with an acceptable file integrity plugin is an example of this form of security auditing tool.
Calls and data returned from API calls can be monitored by API monitoring tools. Any deviation from the planned expectations is shown to be suspicious.
Removal can be a long-running company. Booting in safe mode with a rootkit does not do any good. You need to boot from an operating system CD or DVD. This means that your hard drive does not participate in the process of booting and the rootkit dropper program cannot alter your CD or DVD image.
Sometimes, the booted operating system is not the same as your computer is. For example, you could boot from a Linux Live CD on a Windows PC. You can then use rootkit hunting tools to find where the dropper is to remove it. The hard disk should be substituted, removed, or reinstalled.
Prevention is the safest cure
The vast majority of rootkit infections are interactive with human beings. Maybe someone was fooled by a phishing e-mail or tried to download software from an illegal torrent site. This means that the best way to strengthen your protection against rootkits vulnerability is to give the employee’s cybersecurity awareness training and to obey policies and procedures.
An Acceptable Usage Policy outlines what the computer tools of your company are and what is not acceptable. Can your staff search some kind of website during their lunch break, or are certain website categories forbidden? What are the rules that allow you to access your personal webmail? It is your company that is affected not the user’s domestic machine if they use their office desktop in reading their personal email and falling for a phishing attack.
A Password Policy must include specific instructions for creating secure passwords and preventing pitfalls. Don’t use socially engineered passwords, such as children’s names or anniversaries dates. Don’t reuse passwords on multiple devices. You should advocate and offer a list of those password managers that are licensed for use. Implement authentication of two factors where possible.
Perform short, sharp workouts explaining the threat of malware and phishing attacks. A ransomware attack could endanger the financial stability of the company, so commitment to cybersecurity does not just protect the company it protects the lives of its employees. Give instructions for detecting a phishing email and what to do if you receive it. Encourage a culture focused on security that values security-based requests and double-checks and does not frown on them.
You may wish to contact a cybersecurity company and execute staff awareness workouts such as innocuous phishing campaigns and USB drops to recognize workers who need additional training.
For most malware, your workers are your frontline soldiers. You should enable them to defend your network as efficiently as possible.