There are many free anti-rootkit (ARK) tools but some require a certain level of expertise and investigative ability to use so they are intended for advanced users
or to be used under the guidance of an expert. Arks are powerful
tools and using them incorrectly could lead to disastrous problems with your operating system
. Most of the more effective ARK tools should only be utilized by advanced users as they generate logs which must be interpreted and investigated before taking any removal action. Why? Not all hidden components detected by ARKs are malicious
. It is normal for a Firewall, some Anti-virus and Anti-malware software (ProcessGuard, Prevx1, AVG AS), sandboxes, virtual machines and Host based Intrusion Prevention Systems (HIPS) to hook into the OS kernal/SSDT in order to protect your system. SSDT (System Service Descriptor Table) is a table that stores addresses of functions that are used by Windows. Whenever a function is called, Windows looks in this table to find the address for it. Both Legitimate programs and rootkits can hook into and alter this table. You should not be alarmed if you see any hidden entries created by legitimate programs after performing a scan.
Some files are locked by the operating system or running programs during use for protection, so scanners cannot access them. When the scanner finds such a file, it makes a note and then just skips to the next one. API Kernel hooks are not always bad since some system monitoring software and security tools use them as well. If no hooks are active on a system it means that all system services are handled by ntoskrnl.exe which is a base component of Windows operating systems and the process used in the boot-up cycle of a computer.
In most cases further investigation is required after the initial ARK scan to analyze and identify the files which were detected so they can be removed during a subsequent scan (or with other specialized tools) if found to be malicious.
These are a few of the easier ARKS for novice users:Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
uses a proprietary low level driver (similar to some ARK detectors) to locate hidden files and special techniques which enable it to detect a wide spectrum of threats including active rootkits. SUPERAntiSpyware Free
offers technology to deal with rootkit infections as well.
Before performing an anti-rootkit (ARK) scan it is recommended to do the following to ensure more accurate results and avoid common issues that may cause false detections.
- Disconnect from the Internet or physically unplug you Internet cable connection.
- Clean out your temporary files.
- Close all open programs, scheduling/updating tasks and background processes that might activate during the scan including the screensaver.
- Temporarily disable your anti-virus and real-time anti-spyware protection.
- After starting the scan, do not use the computer until the scan has completed.
- When finished, re-enable your anti-virus/anti-malware and then you can reconnect to the Internet.
If you are using a CD Emulator (Daemon Tools
, Alchohol 120%
, etc) be aware that they use rootkit-like techniques to hide from other applications. When dealing with a malware infection, CD Emulators can interfere with investigative or anti-rootkit (ARK) tools. This interference can produce misleading or inaccurate scan results, false detection
of legitimate files, cause unexpected crashes, BSODs
, and general dross. This 'dross' often makes it hard to differentiate between genuine malicious rootkits and the legitimate drivers used by CD Emulators. In some cases, the drivers related to such tools can cause crashes or system hanging when attempting to boot into safe mode. Since CD Emulators use a hidden driver which can be seen as a rootkit and interfere with providing accurate results or cause other problems, it is recommended that they be removed or disabled until disinfection is completed.