Complexity in rootkits is growing at a phenomenal rate, allowing malicious software to burrow deep and potentially go undetected inside Microsoft’s Windows platform, according to a security report released Wednesday by McAfee.

Rootkits–malicious software that operates in a stealth fashion by hiding its files, processes and registry keys–have grown over the past five years from 27 components to 2,400, according to McAfee’s Rootkits Part 2: A Technical Primer (PDF).

“The trend is it used to be rootkit A was used, but now it’s different components in different rootkit malware,” said Dave Marcus, security researcher and communications manager for McAfee Avert Labs. “Now, there are more ways attackers can use these components to hide their malware.”

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