Rootkit vs Spyware

In the world of online security, there are quite a few malicious threats consumers and corporations have to be aware of. Two of those common types are spyware and rootkits. While they may seemingly try to achieve a similar goal, there are some intriguing differences between the two. Rest assured no one will ever willingly deal with these types of infections unless there is no other choice, though.

2. Rootkit

Most people have heard the term rootkit before, although very few people are actively aware of what this malicious software does. A rootkit can best be described as a computer program designed by criminals so they can gain administrator access to a computer or laptop. Rootkits are also used against mobile devices, where assailants can gain “root” access to the device. It is well worth mentioning rootkits were around well before mobile phones got connected to the internet, thus the name is not derived from gaining root access.

Once the assailant gains administrative rights on the computer or mobile device they try to access, they can effectively cause all kinds of havoc along the way. Administrator access allows hackers to remotely control the device in every possible way, including the installation and removal of software, copying files, and conducting remote surveillance of the user’s behavior. It is a very nasty piece of malicious software that needs to be removed from a computer or mobile device sooner rather than later.

Back in 2005, there was a lot of media attention over Sony’s questionable implementation of copy protection measures on music CDs. Once the CDs were inserted in a computer, two pieces of software were installed. Removing the tools was very difficult, and they introduced new vulnerabilities as a result. While Sony claims the software installation was unintentional, security experts were quick to label it as a rootkit attack.

1. Spyware

Contrary to a rootkit, spyware is rather limited as to what it can do. Do not be mistaken in thinking this makes spyware far less dangerous, though, as it can still do a lot of damage. Spyware is a malicious program installed on computers and mobile devices alike for the sole purpose of attacking the user in question. Not in a physical manner by any means, yet spyware is capable of causing a lot of harm without most users even noticing what is going on.

Once spyware infects a computer or mobile device, it will continuously run in the background for as long as the device is in use. At the same time, spyware will effectively collect personal data, including financial details, logins, passwords, files, communication, and anything else one can think of. All of this information is of great value to both advertisers and criminals, hence why spyware is such a major threat.

Just a few weeks ago, a notorious type of mobile spyware was discovered to have an Android variant. Pegasus, as this spyware is known as, is mainly targeting iOS users. However, the spyware is now targeting Android users as well, potentially exposing millions of mobile device users to remote surveillance without even being aware of the situation.

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