The security engineers and IT experts from the Comodo Labs are constantly analyzing the thousands of malware families that are trying to cause destruction and chaos to IT infrastructures large and small – and ensuring the customers of Comodo stay protected and secure from these malware families.
In an ongoing series of posts here at blogs.comodo.com, the security experts at Comodo will look at a specific malware family and stack it up against Comodo’s advanced endpoint protection and containment technology, and talk about the how and why Comodo’s technology defeats all malware. Comodo Senior Vice President of Engineering Egemen Tas and Director of Threat Research Igor Demihovskiy offered their perspectives for this week’s post to Senior Product Marketing Manager Paul Mounkes.
How do Rootkits work?
Rootkits are considered by many to be a category of malware, but they’re different in that they don’t actually conduct malicious activity on their own. Rather, they attempt to hide themselves and their payload from detection, and provide unlimited access to the host system.
There are many types of rootkits, each one worse than the last. The ZeroAccess rootkit gained system entry by injecting its code into Adobe Flash Player updates. When a UAC message warned the system user of the access request, the user would almost always allow it because it looked to be coming from a trusted source, Adobe. And since most users run in administrator mode, ZeroAccess immediately had the root-level system access it needed.
Advanced rootkits like ZeroAccess run at the kernel level which gives them unlimited access to all system resources. Others hide themselves in firmware or bootcode so that, even if they are found inside the OS and deleted, they will re-install themselves the next time the system boots up.
What do Rootkits do?
The goal is always the same; to mask behavior so the truly malicious files can operate without having to contend with antiviruses. ZeroAccess uses aggressive self-defense techniques like disabling antivirus programs, reconfiguring security settings, altering processes and/or disabling logging, among other things.
If a rootkit is running on your system, you cannot trust your computer’s detection, alerting and/or logging systems (your antivirus program cannot trust them either) because malicious behavior is hidden. As a result, your computer is not only lying to you, in a sense it’s lying to itself. And all the while, malware is stealing your login codes, or using your computing resources without your permission.
Because of this, it is extremely difficult to remove a rootkit once it’s installed. In many cases, wiping the hard drive and reinstalling the OS could be the only option.
Prevention with Comodo is the key
Since it can be impossible to eliminate rootkits once they are installed, the key is to stop them from ever installing in the first place. Because their droppers disguise what they’re doing in so many devious ways, there’s only one reliable way to deal with them.
With Comodo Advanced Endpoint Protection, the installer is forced to run in secure containment. All contained executables are denied any direct access to the system’s hard drive, and can only interact with virtual processes. They are never allowed administrator access, so they cannot install at the kernel level.
While running in containment, the files are subjected to Comodo’s multi-layered local and cloud-based malware analysis. If necessary, Comodo’s cloud-based specialized threat analysis and protection layer (STAP) can even request expert human intervention. Once a Known Bad verdict is returned, the virtual container is deleted like nothing ever happened.
If you feel your company’s IT environment is under attack from phishing, malware, spyware or cyberattacks, contact the security consultants at our Comodo Labs: https://enterprise.comodo.com/contact-us.php