Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Thomas E. Dube, PhD.


In cyberspace, attackers commonly infect computer systems with malware to gain capabilities such as remote access, keylogging, and stealth. Many malware samples include rootkit functionality to hide attacker activities on the target system. After detection, users can remove the rootkit and associated malware from the system with commercial tools. This research describes, implements, and evaluates a clean boot method using two partitions to detect rootkits on a system. One partition is potentially infected with a rootkit while the other is clean. The method obtains directory listings of the potentially infected operating system from each partition and compares the lists to find hidden files. While the clean boot method is similar to other cross-view detection techniques, this method is unique because it uses a clean partition of the same system as the clean operating system, rather than external media. The method produces a 0% false positive rate and a 40.625% true positive rate. In operation, the true positive rate should increase because the experiment produces limitations that prevent many rootkits from working properly. Limitations such as incorrect rootkit setup and rootkits that detect VMware prevent the method from detecting rootkit behavior in this experiment. Vulnerabilities of the method include the assumption that the system restore folder is clean and the assumption that the clean partition is clean. This thesis provides recommendations for more effective rootkit detection.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number