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Sophos Delivers Free Rootkit Sniffer For Windows

Microsoft estimates that 14% of computers owned by users of its Malicious Software Removal Tool harbor a rootkit. Sophos warns that rootkits are being used by hackers to hide a variety of criminal activities.
A U.K. security firm on Wednesday posted a free-of-charge rootkit detector that Windows users can run to sniff out software designed to pull an invisibility cloak over malware.

Sophos' Anti-Rootkit program, available to both customers and non-customers, warns if removing a specific rootkit will interfere or impact an infected PC's operating system.

"Rootkits are being increasingly used by hackers to hide a variety of criminal activities, including spyware designed to steal usernames and passwords, denial-of-service attacks, and spam campaigns," said Phil Wood, Sophos product manager, in a statement. "[But] many users don't appear to know what a rootkit is, and may be oblivious to the threat. Windows users need to wise-up to the latest tricks, and have the tools in place to protect themselves."

Microsoft recently said that statistics gleaned from users of its updated-monthly Malicious Software Removal Tool indicate that 14 percent of computers, or almost 1 in 6, harbor a rootkit.

Also on Wednesday, Sophos announced the results of a recent online survey of business users, which found that a majority of 55 percent worry about rootkits infecting their companies' computers. Only 8 percent said that they weren't concerned, while over a third admitted that they didn't know what a rootkit was.

Sophos Anti-Rootkit works on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003; it can be downloaded from here.

Sophos isn't the first security vendor to offer a rootkit detector. Helsinki-based F-Secure, for example, posted its BlackLight in 2005, and has since integrated it into their consumer product line. In June, American security company Webroot added rootkit detection to the enterprise version of its flagship anti-spyware Spy Sweeper title.

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