Rootkit Detection and Eradication Playbook

December 16, 20234 min read

Playbook Objectives:

  • To enhance detection capabilities: Strengthen the ability of the security team to detect and identify sophisticated rootkit infections within the company’s network.
  • To refine response strategies: Develop and practice tailored response strategies to effectively eradicate rootkits and mitigate potential damage.
  • Incident recovery and system integrity: Restore systems to a secure state, ensuring that no remnants of the rootkit remain to compromise network integrity.
  • Skill set enhancement: Enhance the technical aptitude of IT staff in handling advanced persistent threats and sophisticated malware.
  • Risk assessment and management: Identify potential security vulnerabilities and improve defense mechanisms against future rootkit infections.

Difficulty Level:

  • Advanced: The exercise will require in-depth knowledge of operating systems, network protocols, and malware analysis.


  • Company: Atlantix Cybersecurity Solutions Inc.
  • Overview: Atlantix Cybersecurity Solutions Inc. is an established firm specializing in providing cybersecurity services to its clients. Despite their solid reputation, a routine internal audit has recently uncovered irregular network traffic that suggests a potential rootkit compromise. This rootkit is believed to have advanced capabilities, possibly allowing for remote access, data exfiltration, and evasion of traditional antivirus solutions.
  • Why the Exercise is Needed: The discovery alarms the senior security analyst, Morgan Williams. The integrity of their client’s information and the company’s reputation is at stake. Atlantix must act swiftly to understand how the rootkit operates, how it infiltrated their secure environment, and how to eliminate it without causing further disruption.


  • Cybersecurity Topic: Rootkit Detection and Eradication.

Exercise Attack Steps:

  1. Initial Breach:
    • A seemingly harmless email sent to Atlantix’s finance department contains a sophisticated rootkit.
    • Employee John Doe opens an attachment, inadvertently executing the rootkit installation script.
  2. Rootkit Installation and Persistence:
    • The rootkit embeds itself into the operating system kernel, making detection challenging.
    • It modifies system processes and installs backdoors for future access.
  3. Detection and Identification:
    • Network anomalies prompt a system-wide scan using specialized rootkit detection tools.
    • Anomalies in system behavior and unexpected outbound traffic are analyzed.
  4. Containment:
    • Affected systems are isolated to prevent further spread of the rootkit.
    • Network segmentation is implemented to quarantine compromised assets.
  5. Eradication:
    • On detection, a stringent process follows to remove rootkit components without damaging system integrity.
    • Re-imaging of infected systems is carried out where necessary.
  6. Recovery:
    • Systems are cautiously restored from clean backups.
    • Further monitoring ensures no traces of the rootkit remain active.
  7. Post-Exercise Review:
    • A detailed review meeting is held to discuss the exercises, analyze the effectiveness of the response, and identify areas for improvement.
    • Updates to the incident response plan are made based on lessons learned.
  8. Refinement and Training:
    • Security policies are updated, and additional safeguards are put in place to protect against similar threats.
    • Staff receive updated training on recognizing and preventing social engineering and advanced persistent threats.
By running this lab exercise, Atlantix Cybersecurity Solutions Inc. aims not only to secure their network from this current threat but also to bolster their overall security posture, ensuring they can handle similar or even more advanced threats in the future. The team leading this exercise simultaneously tests their resilience against an active, evolving cyber threat, while using this scenario as a critical learning opportunity to enhance their security knowledge and readiness.