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2005/03/23 rooted

Traditionally these were in the realm of Unix machines, but there are now Windows versions. A system taken over by a rootkit is said to have been "rooted" (so shouldn't a compromised Windows box be referred to as having been "Adminned"?).

The original rootkits installed modified binaries of tools and or libraries that you might use to detect their presence. The modified "lsof", for example, might happily show you all system activity except the spamming mailserver that was busily using your resources to annoy the rest of the world. Corruption like this isn't necessarily easy to find, but the more modern kits are much worse: they don't bother with applications, but go right to the kernel. There, they can intercept anything and everything, hiding information or changing it.

A very dark thought is expressed at http://www.securityfocus.com/news/2879 with regard to Windows kernel rootkits. These have supposedly been rare, but:

Greg Hoglund, a California computer security consultant, believes
intruders have been using Windows root kits covertly for years. He
says the paucity of kits captured in the wild is a reflection of
their effectiveness -- not slow adoption by hackers. "It's happening
now," says Hogland. "People don't realize that it's happening, but
in the next two or three years we're going to see a lot more of
this activity."

And of course Linux isn't immune to this kind of thing either: http://infosecuritymag.techtarget.com/articles/april01/columns_tech_talk.shtml.

It's a scary world, isn't it? Probably yet another reason to do fresh installs instead of upgrades when the time comes..

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© Tony Lawrence

Wed Mar 23 11:55:33 2005: 226   anonymous

Hey, anybody want to learn how to write a kernel mode rootkit for Windows? All you need is Windows DDK, Windows 2000 on a laptop, and 1800 bucks.


mhahahaha. (found it in a quick google search),

Seriously, though, this is a major problem for everybody.. It sucks for Windows worse though because the level of access you have to your OS is much less then in Linux or most Unixes. In Linux you have a lot of low-level utilities and a long history of rootkit attacks so it's not terribly terribly difficult to detect them as long as you prepare yourself ahead of time. (Network intrusion detection thru things like SNORT, Tripwire, chkrootkit, the ability to boot up in Knoppix and shift around internals, etc etc). Most Windows admins aren't realy up to the same task in Windows; much more complex interrelationships, much more closed and the anti-rootkit tools tend to be a lot more expensive. Although they are starting to show up.

Something to think about, I suppose.

Clean installs, especially after getting attacked successfully, is a very good thing, I figure.


Wed Mar 23 12:28:52 2005: 227   TonyLawrence

Excellent point, Drag: the lack of access to your own OS is always a shortcoming for Windows, and it's worse for this kind of thing. As you note, we have much more ability to root (no pun intended) these things out.

I bet that he's right about there being many more rooted windows systems than anyone imagines..

Wed Mar 30 20:38:10 2005: 261   anonymous

Another article about this is at (link)

Kerio Connect Mailserver

Kerio Samepage

Kerio Control Firewall

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