BitDefender has joined a growing list of security vendors testing tools for rootkit detection and cleanup.
The Bucharest, Romania, anti-virus vendor on July 7 unveiled an anti-rootkit utility that promises to spot and delete stealthy software programs that are used by malicious hackers to hide malware.
BitDefenders rootkit cleaner will be available as a free stand-alone utility for registered beta testers.
The companys immediate plan is to add rootkit-detection features to its product suite, starting with the next iteration of its consumer Internet security suite.
Vito Souza, North American marketing coordinator for BitDefender, said the startling rise in rootkit infections on Windows machines has made it mandatory for security products to include rootkit-detection capabilities.
According to data culled from Microsofts MSRT (Malicious Software Removal Tool), rootkits on Windows machines are a "potential emerging threat." Of the 5.7 million machines cleaned by the tool since January 2005, 14 percent were infected with a rootkit.
In 20 percent of the cases where a rootkit was found and removed, at least one back-door Trojan was also found, confirming suspicions that rootkits are being used to hide other pieces of malicious software from anti-virus scanners.
Microsoft has added detections for some types of rootkits to its Windows Defender desktop product, and several other security vendors have shipped highly rated anti-rootkit utilities.
Security researchers are continuing to push the envelope to find ways that hackers could make rootkits harder to find. Just recently, Joanna Rutkowska, a stealth-malware researcher at Singapore-based IT security company Coseinc, warned of a new "Blue Pill" concept that is capable of creating malware that remains "100 percent undetectable," even on Windows Vista x64 systems.