The number of incidents where malware and adware-like applications use stealth technology increased by more than 600 per cent over the past three years, the researchers found. In the first quarter of this year, the number of incidents increased almost 700 per cent year-over-year.
“Clearly we are seeing that stealth technologies, and rootkits specifically, are increasing at an alarming rate,” said Stuart McClure, senior vice president for global threats with McAfee. “This trend in malware evolution is creating hardier and ever more virulent strains of malware that will continue to threaten businesses and consumers alike.”
McAfee blamed the rise of rootkit technology to the wide availability of information on how to create such technology, up to the existence of commercial kits that take the effort out of malware creation.
Rootkit technology is traditionally used to build a back door into a system, allowing a hacker easy access to a system. The technology lately has had a second career as a way to cloak files and processes from the user and security software to prevent detection and removal.
The most famous example of rootkit technology is the XCP anti-piracy application that the Sony BMG record label introduced last year. The technology was intended to prevent illegal copying of music CDs, but also posed a significant security risk to computers on which it was installed.