by Paul Roberts, IDG News Service

System monitoring programs, called rootkits, may pose a serious danger to your PC

Microsoft security researchers are warning about a new generation of powerful system monitoring programs, or "rootkits", that are almost impossible to detect using current security products and that could pose a serious risk to corporations and individuals.

The researchers discussed the growing threat posed by kernel root kits at a session at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco this week. The malicious snooping programs are becoming more common and could soon be used to create a new generation of mass-distributed spyware and worms.

With names like "Hacker Defender", "FU" and "Vanquish", the programs are the latest generation of remote system monitoring software that has been around for years, according to Mike Danseglio and Kurt Dillard, both of Microsoft's Security Solutions Group.