What is a rootkit, first of all?
Rootkits, in general, has been an issue for corporations and even personal computers for over a decade. Rootkits are, in the simplest terms, a way of gathering information; rather the information is about you, a company, or even behaviors. Rootkits are an information thief’s Swiss Army Knife.
What do rootkits do?
Rootkits are designed to infiltrate a device and collect information. This information is often credit card numbers, passwords, and usernames. This information can be used to steal and overtake accounts; this can include Facebook accounts, business accounts, and bank accounts. There are ways to counter rootkits but I will go into that later.
Why does any of this matter if I have a strong password?
Unfortunately, most security measures that websites, your computer, and even your phone have in place are generally to stop someone from physically accessing your device. The main problem with rootkits is that most of them are cleverly disguised so that you don’t know until it’s too late. Having a strong password is important but, in most rootkit cases, completely useless.
How does it collect my information?
Usually, rootkits depend on your trust with your day-to-day device; and yes this includes business computers or mobile phones as well. You go to your app store, browse through some games or business tools, and download one or two. Most applications come with some kind of permissions that you have to pre-approve. Giving the app permission gives them permission.
All of this is overwhelming I know, but here are some things you can do
- You always want to check reviews and ratings before downloading an application; the more reviews the more credible the application.
- Is this an application you’ve heard of before? If so, chances are you’re okay.
- Does the permissions of the application match with what the description says the app does? If no then you probably shouldn’t download it.
- Speaking of reviews… do all of the reviews look and sound the same? Then they’re more than likely fake reviews, by fake accounts.
Wait I thought that kind of thing happened to mostly computers
For the longest time, this statement was true for the most part. However, because of new technologies ever evolving and business’ allowing you to bring your own device to work, this isn’t true any longer. Now more than ever you should be aware of what you’re downloading and what it’s for; especially if your personal device doubles over as a work device.
How do I tell if I already have a rootkit on my device?
Luckily in today’s market, there is plenty of software available to scan and identify harmful programs on your device. Make sure you follow the guidelines I provided earlier to determine a credible application.
What if I do have a rootkit on my device?
The safest and most effective method to get rid of a rootkit, along with any other harmful files, is to reinstall your OS (operating system). Most of the time rootkits aren’t that deeply embedded. I know it can be a pain but the alternative isn’t worth it; you could lose your job and even end up in court for putting your business at risk.
What do I do before I reinstall my OS?
The best thing you can do for yourself at this point is taking your phone to an expert who can make sure your valuable files are backed up before. This method can sometimes be costly. If you don’t want to deal with the extra expense you can always download Malwarebytes onto your pc and transfer the files; Malwarebytes has a function that allows you to scan files before they’re put onto your computer.
You’ve now educated yourself on how to avoid these situations, and what to do if they happen. I have dealt with viruses and software attacks since the late 90’s and if there’s anything I’ve learned – it’s to be careful of what I download. Stay safe.