What's a Rootkit?
I had to deal with a particularly nasty virus this month, it was a rootkit.
When installed on a computer, a rootkit provides remote access to resources, files and system information without the owners knowledge. Rootkits are very difficult to detect and remove, sometimes even requiring the hard drive to be wiped of all traces of data and the complete re-installation of Windows.
A rootkit can be installed by clicking on an infected graphic or program and can also be installed by surfing the Web. A popup window might state, for example, that a program is necessary to view the site correctly, disguising a rootkit as a legitimate plugin. Even a "no thanks" button can be programmed to install the unwanted software.
I was lucky, I managed to remove all traces of the infection, but it took five full system scans by three different antivirus and rootkit cleaner programs, I then had to spend a fair amount of time correcting all the damage done to the system. Thankfully all the customers data was undamaged and the PC has now been returned to him.
Please be aware of security warnings which pop up from time to time, either from Microsoft, or your antivirus program. If you weren't expecting a warning popup, take the time to read it and act on the advice, the consequences of ignoring it could be serious.