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Rootkit Hunter


  • A Rocky Linux Web Server running Apache
  • Proficiency with a command-line editor (we are using vi in this example)
  • A heavy comfort level with issuing commands from the command-line, viewing logs, and other general systems administrator duties
  • An understanding of what can trigger a response to changed files on the file system (such as package updates) is helpful
  • All commands are run as the root user or sudo


rkhunter (Root Kit Hunter) is a Unix-based tool that scans for rootkits, backdoors, and possible local exploits. It is a good part of a hardened web server, and is designed to notify the administrator quickly when something suspicious happens on the server's file system.

rkhunter is just one possible component of a hardened Apache web server setup and can be used with or without other tools. If you'd like to use this along with other tools for hardening, refer back to the Apache Hardened Web Server guide.

This document also uses all of the assumptions and conventions outlined in that original document, so it is a good idea to review it before continuing.

Installing rkhunter

rkhunter requires the EPEL (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux) repository. So install that repository if you don't have it installed already:

dnf install epel-release

Then install rkhunter:

dnf install rkhunter

Configuring rkhunter

The only configuration options that need to be set are those dealing with mailing reports to the administrator. To modify the configuration file, run:

vi /etc/rkhunter.conf

And then search for:

#MAIL-ON-WARNING=me@mydomain root@mydomain

Remove the remark here and change the me@mydomain.com to reflect your email address.

Then change the root@mydomain to root@whatever_the_server_name_is.

You may also need to setup Postfix Email for Reporting in order to get the email section to work correctly.

Running rkhunter

rkhunter can be run by typing it at the command-line. There is a cron job installed for you in /etc/cron.daily, but if you want to automate the procedure on a different schedule, look at the Automating cron jobs guide.

You'll also need to move the script somewhere other than /etc/cron.daily, such as /usr/local/sbin and then call it from your custom cron job. The easiest method, of course, is to leave the default cron.daily setup intact.

Before you run allow rkhunter to run automatically, run the command manually with the "--propupd" flag to create the rkhunter.dat file, and to make sure that your new environment is recognized without issue:

rkhunter --propupd

To run rkhunter manually:

rkhunter --check

This will echo back to the screen as the checks are performed, prompting you to [Press <ENTER> to continue] after each section.


rkhunter is one part of a hardened server strategy that can help in monitoring the file system and reporting any issues to the administrator. It is perhaps one of the easiest hardening tools to install, configure, and run.

Senast uppdaterad: 28 april 2022

Author: Steven Spencer

Contributors: Ezequiel Bruni