According to Security company McAfee, reported in PC Pro Magazine, hacking "rootkits" are exchanging hands for as much as $2,000 and the numbers have risen alarmingly: some 400 per cent between 2004 and 2005. The company predicts continued growth of 650 per cent every year for the next two to three years.
Rootkits have had a high profile ever since Sony's catastrophic attempt at copy-protection was found to contain insecure rootkit technology that compromised the system upon which it was installed.
The term 'rootkit' refers to code working at a low level, interacting directly with the operating system and invisible to the user and other applications, including many security software - the infamy of the incident also took the fancy of virus writers the world over: rootkits are now big business on the virus underground.
In the first quarter of 2005 , McAfee had 60-odd stealth components sent to it for analysis; in the 2006 period that figure rises to 612.