Windows XP is a breeding ground for rootkit infections

New research from Avast, the Prague-based vendor known for their free anti-Virus and Malware removal tools, shows that Windows XP installations are a perfect target for criminals spreading rootkits. And users are helping them along.

The six-month study ran by Avast Virus Labs, catalogued over 630,000 samples, and singled out Windows XP as the originating platform for rootkit problems. To break things down a bit, Windows XP was responsible for 74-percent of the rootkits found, followed by 17-percent on Vista, and 12-percent on Windows 7.

While old, Windows XP is still the top OS among Avast users, with an install base of 49-percent. Windows 7 (38-percent) is the second most common, followed by Vista (13-percent).

Rootkits are nasty pieces of Malware, and are nearly impossible to detect or remove. However, because rootkits are gaining traction, even companies who offer free Malware protection are advancing their products to better detect and remove them.

One of the reasons a rootkit is so painful, is that many of them are able to avoid detection while in operation by piggybacking on legitimate operating system or application processes. Yet, the data compiled actually pinpoints why Windows XP has such a rootkit problem among the Avast community.

“One issue with Windows XP is the high number of pirated versions, especially as users are often unable to properly update them because the software can’t be validated by the Microsoft update,” said Przemyslaw Gmerek, the Avast expert on rootkits and lead researcher.

“Because of the way they attack – and stay concealed – deep in the operation system, rootkits are a perfect weapon for stealing private data.”

Advancements made by Microsoft has allowed newer operating systems like Windows 7 to remain more resilient to rootkits. However, this does not mean they are immune to them.

Innovations like UAC, PatchGuard, and Driver Signing has helped, Avast explained, but they haven’t provided fail-proof security. Criminals continue to fine-tune their attack strategy with the Master Boot Record (MBR). A perfect example of this can be seen with the newest TDL4 rootkit variants.

Avast’s data shows that rootkits infecting a system via the MBR were responsible for over 62-percent of all rootkit infections. Moreover, driver infections made up 27-percent of the total. Alureon (TDL4 / TDL3) was responsible for 74-percent of infections detected and removed.

“People need to keep anti-Virus software installed and updated - regardless of where they got their operating system,” added Gmerek.

He will be presenting the full report during BlackHat this week in Las Vegas. Anyone concerned about rootkit infections is invited to use Avast’s aswMBR. Screenshots and additional information about the tool are here.

Like this article? Please share on Facebook and give The Tech Herald a Like too!

From our Other Sites

Man Makes Tiny Edible Pancakes with Tiny Kitchen Tools (Video)

This Japanese guy cooks up some pancakes…nothing special there right? Well he uses tiny implements to do it and makes perfect little pancakes. Kinda cool and they look tasty!

What Color is this Dress?

White and Gold or Blue and Black?
Well this one has been trending all over the web, just what color is this dress? It all started in Scotland when the mother of a bride-to-be sent a picture to her daughter asking what she thought of the dress. The bride and groom each saw the image differently, this then got posted online and picked up by some viral sites. The lighting in photo is probably  causing different people to see it as either white and gold or blue and black. Prof Stephen Westland, chair of color science and technology at a University in the UK told the BBC that it was impossible to see what other people see but that it was most […]

McLaren 675LT Pictures

Some great shots of the forthcoming McLaren 675LT. This coupe will get you to 60mph in less than 2.9 second and go all the way to 205mph.

McLaren 675LT Details

McLaren’s 675LT will debut at this year’s Geneva show and promises some eye-popping performance. The coupe only 675LT has a 3.8 liter V8 that will get you from 0-60mph in less than 2.9 seconds and to 124mph in less than 7.9 secondsMore than a third of the parts have been changed compared with its stable mate […]

McLaren 675LT Wallpaper

Some cool McLaren 675LT Wallpaper. The McLaren 675LT is the latest coupe to come from the supercar maker and has a top speed of 205mph.Click on an image to open a page with multiple sizes that you can download to use as wallpaper for your mobile or desktop.More McLaren Wallpaper.

Octopus hunts on land, grabs crab (Video)

This crab is minding its own business searching the rock pools for food when suddenly an octopus leaps out of the water and grabs it. The amazing thing is that the octopus does not just jump on the crab it actually pulls it all the way back to the rock pool it came from. If you check the second video you will see it is not unknown for octopus to come out of the water and the one in the second video has a crab with it, though is not hunting one! Octopus Walks on Land at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve The video was taken by Porsche Indrisie in Yallingup, Western […]

Stunning Mars Rover Selfie

This image by the Curiosity Mars rover is not exactly your typical selfie. It is made up of a bunch of images taken by the rover during January 2015 by the Mars Hand Lens Imager. This (MAHLI) camera is at the end of the robot’s arm. For a sense of scale the rover’s wheels are about 20 inches diameter and 16 inches wide. Check the annotated image below for more information on the surroundings. Also if you really want to see some detail click this very large image, 36mb, at NASA.  

How the Sahara Helps Feed the Amazon (Video)

Sahara to Amazon
This cool video from NASA shows how dust is transferred across the Atlantic to the Amazon rainforest and helps nourish the plants growing there. For the first time scientists have measured the amount of dust and the amount of phosphorus in the dust. The later acts like a fertiliser and helps replenish the phosphorus the rainforest loses each year, around 22,000 tons. Amazing how something we perceive as being desolate like a desert actually has an important role in sustaining somewhere we see as teeming with life. Image and video from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Bouncing Laser Guided Bomb (Video)

This amazing video shows a laser guided bomb bouncing back up after hitting its target. We actually think this is a non-explosive bomb designed to test guidance systems but it is still pretty remarkable and somewhat scary.

South Koreans Swallowed by Sinkhole (Video)

Thankfully the couple survived their adventure.
This amazing footage taken from the CCTV on a passing bus shows the moment two pedestrians in South Korea fall down a sinkhole in the street! Rescue workers managed to save the pair, who were treated in a nearby hospital for minor injuries. According to reports the city authorities and the Korean Geotechnical Society are looking into the cause.