Windows XP is a popular home for rootkits

By on August 2, 2011, 10:30 AM

Free antivirus software provider Avast has released information from a six-month study which reveals that Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system is home to 74% of their customers’ rootkit infections.

Data gathered from over 600,000 Avast customers pointed to Windows XP as the most vulnerable desktop OS for rootkits. XP, which was released in 2001, is the most widely used operating system to access the Internet according to w3schools.

The dated OS was installed on 49 percent of tallied Avast customers. 38 percent of users in the study were running Windows 7 while 13 percent had Vista installed. In contrast, only 12 percent of rootkits were detected on Windows 7 machines and 17 percent were found on Vista installations.

The problem doesn’t necessarily stem from the use of Windows XP itself, but from how end users obtain and install the operating system.

“One issue with Windows XP is the high number of pirated versions, especially as users are often unable to properly update them because the software can’t be validated by the Microsoft update,” said Przemyslaw Gmerek, the Avast expert on rootkits and lead researcher.

Rootkits are malicious tools that are installed before the operating system and anti-virus software are loaded, making them very difficult to detect and remove. Attackers use rootkits to steal data and install other programs without the user even knowing anything is wrong. Other types of rootkits present bogus antivirus warnings in an attempt to swindle credit card information from the user.

Most antivirus programs are useless in detecting rootkit installations. Users who suspect they might be infected are encouraged to try rootkit-specific removal tools such as TDSSKiller or ComboFix. If you need a helping hand, feel free to create a new thread in our virus and malware removal forum.




User Comments: 15

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Guest said:

LOL.. XP = 10 years of a PC enthusiast OS.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

XP=Noob OS
Either the people that post to this forum can't understand the symbols on their keyboards, and how to form sentences that make some semblance of sense with them, or they are so wrapped up in themselves that they are under impression that nobody else understands the symbols either.

So, that said, both Vista and Windows 7 are newer than XP. If these are the OSes you're using, then you must be the "noob". The people that still have functioning XP based system, have been here a lot longer than you. I have 5 minutes to spare, please tell me everything else you know.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

?One issue with Windows XP is the high number of pirated versions, especially as users are often unable to properly update them because the software can?t be validated by the Microsoft update?

I think that is a big cause for this. Patching pirated OSs is a bit of a pain in the butt. And if you're pirating your AV software too, and you're getting all your updates and patches for both OS and AV through pirate sites, you are probably more likely to get an infection than prevent one.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

captaincranky said:

XP=Noob OS
Either the people that post to this forum can't understand the symbols on their keyboards, and how to form sentences that make some semblance of sense with them, or they are so wrapped up in themselves that they are under impression that nobody else understands the symbols either.

So, that said, both Vista and Windows 7 are newer than XP. If these are the OSes you're using, then you must be the "noob". The people that still have functioning XP based system, have been here a lot longer than you. I have 5 minutes to spare, please tell me everything else you know.

or maybe he is just "trolling" Captain!

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

gwailo247 said:

?One issue with Windows XP is the high number of pirated versions, especially as users are often unable to properly update them because the software can?t be validated by the Microsoft update?

I think that is a big cause for this. Patching pirated OSs is a bit of a pain in the butt. And if you're pirating your AV software too, and you're getting all your updates and patches for both OS and AV through pirate sites, you are probably more likely to get an infection than prevent one.

I've never seemed to have a problem... "seemed" being keyword here. haha

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

or maybe he is just "trolling" Captain!
Well, you can't say that, because then he'd call you a troll for calling him on it.

"Are you trolling"? "No, you are"! See how that works. After the second round of replies they start claiming you don't have a life. Then you have to try and reason with them, "if I have no life, then why is an a**hole like you wasting yours trying to argue with me"?

Perhaps, I should just say something like, "wow, you sure are smart, you must have logged in with IE6", then link them to the IQ article.

Guest said:

One issue with Windows XP is the high number of pirated versions, especially as users are often unable to properly update them because the software can't be validated by the Microsoft update

Apparently they aren't pirating their XP correctly. Never seem to have trouble with updates and a pirated XP Pro :P.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Apparently they aren't pirating their XP correctly. Never seem to have trouble with updates and a pirated XP Pro :P.
How special is that?

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Apparently they aren't pirating their XP correctly. Never seem to have trouble with updates and a pirated XP Pro :P.

I haven't used pirated XP for quite a few years now, but IIRC when MS did a WGA update, sometimes it was a pain to use the Windows Update site until they cracked the WGA again.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Of course it is... it was the most used OS at the time, it still is mostly isn't it?

jerrypalmer said:

Can we stop windows from housing rootkits?

treetops treetops said:

Dang xp is 10 years old, my how time flies. Its still a pretty solid OS. It beat the hell out of windows 98. Its still pretty useful if you don't want your computer bugged down by vista and window 7's resource hogging.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Can we stop windows from housing rootkits?

Probably, but then it would just be Windows 7 anyway.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Can we stop stupid users from buying/or having a computer?

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