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Managed Code Rootkits: Hooking into Runtime Environments

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We live in a world in which we can’t trust our computers. For example, how can we know for sure that our hardware manufacturer did not hide malicious code in the system’s microchip? Or that our freshly installed operating system does not contain backdoors created by a rogue developer from the OS development team?

The fact is that we cannot be sure our computers are free of such harmful software. And unfortunately, our need to use a computer overcomes our lack of trust in this regard.

Malware is a piece of software designed to perform malicious activities on a victim’s machine without his consent. Malware is a general term used to describe “evil” software, such as viruses, Trojan horses, backdoors, rootkits, worms—essentially any kind of code designed to cause harm or spy on a victim’s activities. Once the malware is installed, the attacker’s intent is to stay unnoticed as long as possible while maintaining control of the system. Although early malware writers practiced their craft primarily for the intellectual challenge involved in developing such software and to watch how the malware affected the target machine, today’s malware writers do it for profit. A well-established economy has evolved surrounding malware, from zero-day exploits to full-blown malware applications capable of producing very sophisticated and surreptitious attacks on the fly, more or less unbeknownst to their victims.

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