What Makes Rootkit Attacks Damaging to Remote Businesses

Written by James H Lewitt

March 1, 2021

In the year 2020, as many as 56% of companies worldwide changed their business model and went remote. This was followed by a record-breaking number of cyberattacks. Hackers used the opportunity to their advantage to get into business’ systems and obtain sensitive information.

How? Cybercriminals access a company’s network by exploiting employees’ PCs, laptops, or other devices they use to connect to the firm’s network. Less protected home devices are an easy target for hackers.

One of the most dangerous cyberattacks has proven to be a rootkit attack or malicious software that allows hackers access to your device. Almost undetectable, rootkits are incredibly well hidden and notoriously difficult to detect.

 

HOW DOES A ROOTKIT ATTACK WORK?

To protect your network, it’s good to be familiarized with the way rootkits attack various devices. That can prevent attacks in the future since a lot of it has to do with changing our habits while online.

Firstly, it has to be installed on your device. The malware can find its way onto the computer if you download other software that contains these malicious files. Otherwise, someone with access to your device can inject it, or you may download it accidentally by clicking on an ad or opening an unknown link in your email.

Once the malware is on your device, it will mask itself using other programs that are currently on your PC. To camouflage itself, it can even use programs like Paint.

Some rootkits may require your computer system to be rebooted before they can function properly, but that depends on the specific type of rootkit malware.

After the rootkit finds its way onto your device, it becomes difficult to use, with the rootkit spreading like wildfire.

 

WHAT MAKES ROOTKITS DANGEROUS?

A rootkit is masked by other software you don’t suspect. Therefore, it can remain hidden for a long time before it is discovered. By the time you do, it can do irreversible damage to your company and reputation.

It can affect a PC’s performance and reduce the work productivity of the company.

On the other hand, this type of malware can grant access to the personal data of not only employees but the company’s network and its clients as well. Namely, it targets the administrative level of access to the device.

The aftermath of the rootkit cyberattack is essentially what makes it hazardous. If the hacker is able to breach such high levels of your computer and get to its sensitive information, it can also lead to extortion or breaking the trust of your clients.

Besides eavesdropping and stealing passwords to obtain personal data, a rootkit can be used to install additional malware.

 

PREVENTING ROOTKIT ATTACKS

To prevent rootkits from entering devices it’s important to optimize your employees’ home devices.

Optimizing cybersecurity can be done in several ways. It might include installing rootkit scanners or even pre-emptive blocking.

Rootkit scanners, as the name implies, aim to detect rootkits that are in your systems. Several scanners might be necessary in order to trace active rootkits in various levels of your network.

Scanning might detect malicious code hiding in your system. If the rootkit has already breached your system, you might need to wipe the hard drive clean or even replace it entirely. Sometimes it might be necessary to reinstall your operating system.

Since rootkits are hard to manage after they are discovered, doing a backup of your data and completing the steps above is your only choice.

Besides scanning the system, another prevention technique is to do pre-emptive blocking. That might include training your employees not to click on or open suspicious links and ads, i.e. teach them to recognize phishing scams.

Regularly updating software to fix any new vulnerabilities, examining networks, and running anti-virus can help as well.

 

CONCLUSION

Rootkits are often incredibly difficult to detect once on your device, which means that prevention is your best option.

It usually takes a very skilled hacker to inject a rootkit into a device, but as one of the most dangerous cyberattacks out there, it can bring about major financial losses to any business – as well as damage one’s reputation.

Training your employees to recognize phishing and security threats, especially ones with a higher level of administrative access, and doing regular checkups of systems can help with the prevention of such attacks. As we move further towards a remote work future, and likely one that includes more workers using their own devices, it’s more important than ever to protect your business from cyber threats.

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