Microsoft can't fix Windows XP rootkit

Microsoft has been left scratching its head after its latest security updates for Windows XP will not work on  machines infected with a rootkit virus.

The software giant said that the latest updates will now see the rootkit and give up.   This is preferable to what happened last month when machines infected with the Alureon rootkit crashed endlessly.

The latest batch of updates for Windows was released on 16 April and some of them fix vulnerabilities in the core, or kernel, of Windows. This is the same place that rootkits try to take up residence.

When Alureon is present it monitors net traffic and plucks out user names, passwords and credit card numbers. It also gives attackers a back door into infected machines.
According to the Microsoft site “abnormal conditions” would prevent XP users applying the updates.

“These abnormal conditions on a system could be the result of an infection with a computer virus that modifies some operating system files, which renders the infected computer incompatible with the kernel update,” read the statement.

It is not yet clear how many people have been left without the updates.  The updates can be installed if the the machine is cleaned of the rootkit and this is not too difficult.  Microsoft said.