Malicious software (malware), including viruses, Trojan horses, and spyware, has become an epidemic over the past few years. Statistics show that an unpatched Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) machine is infected within minutes of being connected to the Internet, and downloading software or even just visiting certain Web sites can introduce undesirable software onto your system. Fortunately, the defenses against this plague are constantly improving, with a sound security shield consisting of an antivirus tool, an antispyware solution, a firewall, and up-to-date patches. However, a technology called root kits threatens to change the security landscape and make the task of validating that a computer is clean of malware difficult or even impossible.
Root kit is a term loosely applied to cloaking techniques. When malware utilizes a root kit, it can make itself invisible to security systems, including antivirus tools and system-diagnostic tools such as Task Manager. Let's look at common root kit mechanisms, methods, and utilities you can use to try to detect the presence of a root kit and at what you should do if you find a root kit on your system.
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