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This chapter has shown you many different ways to detect rootkits. We have covered practical implementations, and discussed the theory behind other techniques.

Most of the methods in this chapter have focused on detecting hooks and hidden processes. Whole books could be written on file-system detection, or on detecting covert communication channels. By identifying hooks, though, you will be well on your way to detecting most public rootkits.

No detection algorithm is complete or foolproof. The art of detection is just that an art. As the attacker advances, the detection methods will evolve.

One drawback of spelling out both rootkit and detection methodologies is that this discussion favors the attacker. As methods to detect an attacker are explained, the attacker will alter her methodology. However, the mere fact that a particular subversion technique has not been written up in a book or presented at a conference does not make anyone any safer. The level of sophistication in the attacks presented in this book is beyond the reach of the majority of so-called "hackers," who are basically script-kiddies. We hope the techniques discussed in this publication will become the first methods that security companies and operating system creators begin to defend against.

More-advanced rootkit techniques and their detection are being developed as you read these words. Currently, we are aware of several efforts to cloak rootkits in memory so that even memory scanning is corrupted. Other groups are moving to hardware with embedded processors in order to scan kernel memory without relying upon the operating system.[11] Obviously these two groups will be at odds. Since neither implementation is available for public scrutiny, it is hard to say which one has the upper hand. We are sure that each one will have its own limitations and weaknesses.

[11] N. Petroni, J. Molina, T. Fraser, and W. Arbaugh (University of Maryland, College Park, Md.), "Copilot: A Coprocessor Based Kernel Runtime Integrity Monitor," paper presented at Usenix Security Symposium 2004, available at:

The rootkits and detection software mentioned in the previous paragraph represent the extremes. Before you begin to worry about these new tools, you need to address the most common threats. This book has shown you what they are, and where the attacker is likely to go.

Recently we have seen companies showing their first signs of interest in rootkit detection. We hope this trend will continue. Having more-informed consumers will cause protection software to advance. The same can be said for having more-informed attackers.

As we stated in Chapter 1, corporations are not motivated to protect against a potential attack until there is an attack. You are now that motivation!

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    Rootkits(c) Subverting the Windows Kernel
    Rootkits: Subverting the Windows Kernel
    ISBN: 0321294319
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2006
    Pages: 111

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