A Suite of Whitehat Rootkits for the Linux kernel

29 Aug 2015 . tech . Comments
#security #opensource

Rootkits are malicious binaries that run in the kernel of an operating system, which essentially gives them god-like powers over the entire machine. While it’s true that you need root permissions to add a rootkit to the kernel, social engineering and zero-day vulnerabilities can make this a relatively easy feat. After a rootkit is installed, it can cause extensive damage to your system by performing various malicious activities, like concealing files and processes, deploying malware, exfiltrating passwords and certificates, and logging all user activity on your machine. To achieve all this, rootkits often alter the system call table, which results in the user being unable to detect the malicious activity and behaviour.

In order to mitigate risks, I built the following kernel modules which can prevent and detect rootkit activities.

The Drip Dry Carbonite protects the system call table and logs snapshots of the running processes. In case an attempt is made to modify the table, the machine is frozen to prevent any further damage.

Dresden blocks any attempts to insert rootkits into the kernel, while also dumping the instruction memory and logging a critical message. As long as this module is the last one inserted in the kernel after its boot, then it will be able to prevent any rootkit that tries to load itself into the kernel.

Netlog logs all network activity by probing the inet stack of the kernel in order to be used for forensic analysis in case of a security breach.

In the future, I’ll be sharing some interesting snippets of the source code of
these rootkits. While there are ways to protect yourself from rootkits, they are a moving target, which means that you have to constantly advance your defensive tools in order to keep up with the latest threats.


A creative thinker who is not afraid to challenge the norm. His diverse track record includes failed startups, approved patents and scientific publications in top conferences and journals. On a mission to protect what matters most to you.