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Researchers release Win 7 rootkit exploit code

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Security researchers have released a proof-of-concept rootkit for Windows 7, in the hopes that its availability will assist in the prompt development of an antidote.

Indian security researchers Vipin Kumar and Nitin Kumar demonstrated the toolkit, dubbed Vbootkit 2.0, at the Hack In The Box security conference in Dubai last month. Initially the security boffins wanted to keep the code under wraps, in case malicious hackers latched onto the approach.

They've since had second thoughts, prompting them to release the code for Vbootkit 2.0 under an open source licence, in the belief that its availability will assist the work of other security researchers.

As things stand, Vbootkit 2.0 doesn't lend itself to remote attack. It might also be thwarted by features such as BitLocker hard drive encryption and the Trusted Platform Module, in cases where this feature is available and enabled. BitLocker is only due to be available in Enterprise and Ultimate versions of Windows 7.

The Kumars are concerned that the attack approach against Windows 7 they have unearthed might be modified by skilled miscreants to develop remote attacks, hence the decision to give white hat security researchers a leg up in developing defences. They also want to make the case to Microsoft that it ought to make improved security features available across all versions of Windows 7, not just the higher-end versions.

"We would really like Microsoft to release one single edition with all features available to all user[s] instead of crippled editions," Kumar told eWeek. "Right now BitLocker and TPM are only available in the high-end versions." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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