Top free tools for rooting out rootkit spies

Scott spanbauer By Scott Spanbauer

An easy-to-use rootkit detector and cleaner makes trapping this sneaky spyware a snap.

Whether you’re comfortable sorting through your PC’s processes and Registry keys manually or you prefer to have someone else do the sleuthing, there’s a rootkit detector for you.

Find the malware hiding on your system

Even if you use a firewall and set your antivirus software to update its virus definitions automatically, your PC may not be safe from rootkits.

By manipulating the operating system at a low level, these malware programs can install PC keyloggers and backdoor programs surreptitiously on your PC. Then their authors are able to spy on your activities and control your system remotely.

Though many antivirus vendors have added rootkit detection and removal to their programs’ arsenal of anti-malware weaponry, not all antivirus programs are rootkit-savvy. Even if your security software claims to defend against rootkits, you may benefit from a second opinion.

I tested a number of free rootkit detectors for Windows XP and Windows Vista, and my clear favorite is F-Secure’s Blacklight, which combines thorough system scanning with the familiar interface reminiscent of a standard antivirus program.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2008-05-22: