Almost half of rootkits are used for cyberattacks against government organizations

Research into how rootkits are used by cybercriminals has revealed that close to half of campaigns are focused on compromising government systems. 

On Wednesday, Positive Technologies released a report on the evolution and application of rootkits in cyberattacks, noting that 77% of rootkits are utilized for cyberespionage. 

Rootkits are used to obtain privileges in an infected system, either at the kernel level or based on user modes, the latter of which is used by many software applications. Some rootkits may also combine both capabilities. 

Once a rootkit has hooked into a machine, it may be used to hijack a PC, intercept system calls, replace software and processes, and they may also be part of a wider exploit kit containing other modules such as keyloggers, data theft malware, and cryptocurrency miners — with the rootkit set to disguise malicious activity. 

However, rootkits are difficult to develop and may take both time and expense to do so — and as a result, the majority of rootkit-based attacks are linked to advanced persistent threat (APT) groups that have the resources and skill to develop this form of malware. 

The researchers’ analysis sample was made up of 16 malware types; 38% being kernel-mode rootkits, 31%

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