O Rootkit Detection and Mitigation Techniques

Detecting and mitigating rootkits requires determining how they work, ascertaining which files are involved, and determining how to remove those files. It can be a timeintensive process. However, you can simplify the process somewhat if you employ the right methodology. Using the right methodology begins before a compromise happens, not after. Results cannot be trusted if they are based solely on analysis after a compromise.

The best way to ferret out a rootkit is to get beneath it. If the rootkit is beneath the analysis tools, it will misinform the tools and give incomplete or inaccurate information. Getting beneath it by using advanced incident response and forensic methodologies gives a better view of what is happening on the system. Regardless of the type of rootkit, all rootkits have files and leave some sort of detectible evidence. All that needs to be done is to find the rootkit.

To ensure proper detection of all compromised or modified files, start with a gold image baseline, as discussed in Chapter 4, and compare the baseline with the current system state. A good baseline consists of an accurate depiction of the system in a clean state (created before the machine was placed in service or after patches were last applied to the machine in its most recent clean state). Various host integrity software programs work well for this purpose and several computer forensic programs work even better.

The benefit of using a computer forensic program to build hash sets ahead of time is revealed when an actual incident occurs. Everything is available to respond to the incident in the investigative environment. Computer forensic programs, particularly enterprise computer forensic programs, also include enhanced abilities for profiling systems and have file viewing, searching, and analysis tools that assist in a response— even on live systems.

When using any of these applications, you are essentially looking for any suspicious changes to the system. These changes could be new modules, unauthorized processes, modified system files, and so on. System file changes could be identified in various ways, including hash value differences, modified permissions, and/or changes to various flags, such as the immutable flag.

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