A rootkit is a software system that consists of a program or combination of several programs designed to hide or obscure the fact that a computer system has been compromised. Contrary to what its name implies a rootkit does not grant you administrator access as it requires prior access to execute and tamper with security files and processes.
A hacker may attempt to use a rootkit to replace vital system executables which may then be used to hide processes and files the hacker has installed along with the presence of the rootkit. A rootkit is intended to seize control of the operating system. Typically rootkits act to obscure their presence on the system through subversion or evasion of standard operating system security mechanisms.
Often they are Trojans as well thus fooling users into believing they are safe to run on their systems. Rootkits may also install a “backdoor” in a system by replacing the login mechanism with an executable that accepts a secret login combination which in turn allows an attacker to access the system regardless of changes to the actual accounts on the system.
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