How to install and use rkhunter on Ubuntu Linux?

Rootkit is a set of malicious computer programs that are designed to enable access to a computer system while hiding its presence. Having rootkits on a system mean someone have unauthorized access to it and most probably they are accessing data and sensitive information of your system.

There are software using which you can detect and remove rootkits from a system one of the most popular tool to remove rootkits is rkhunter.

What is Rkhunter?

Rkhunter (Rootkit Hunter) is a lightweight computer antivirus program that detects and fixes rootkits, backdoors, and other possible local exploits. It comes preinstalled on distributions like Kali Linux, Fedora, etc.

It works by comparing SHA-1 hashes of important files with good online databases. It scans hidden files, wrong permissions set on binaries, and suspicious strings in the kernel.

In this article I will discuss how to install rkhunter on Ubuntu Linux.

Features of rkhunter

The key features of Rkhunter are –

  • Free and opensource
  • Lightweight and fast
  • Work from terminal
  • It uses SHA-1 hash comparison to detect malicious entries
  • Portable and compatible with most UNIX-based systems

How to install Rkhunter on Ubuntu

Rkhunter is available in the official Ubuntu repository you can install it either from Ubuntu Software or by using apt command.

So before you install a package on your system make sure apt package repository is updated –

sudo apt update

Now use the following command to install rkhunter on your system –

sudo apt install rkhunter

Press y and then enter if it asks for your confirmation.

During the installation you will be asked for postfix configuration. Here you can select the Internet Site by pressing Tab and then provide your system mail name.

For this article I will setup it on local only.

postfix configuraion

Once completed, you can verify the rkhunter installation by using –

rkhunter --version

rkhunter version

Configuring Rkhunter

Before you use rkhunter you should configure a few things.

sudo nano /etc/rkhunter.conf

Change the file configuration to –


Also set WEB_CMD option to null.


Enabling regular scan and update with Cron

You can automate the process of regualr system scan and database update by using cron settings. First open the /etc/default/rkhunter by using a text editor –

sudo nano /etc/default/rkhunter

And then make the given changes to this file –


Update Rkhunter text data files

Text data files are used by rkhunter to detect any suspicious program or threat on a system. Update it by using the given command –

sudo rkhunter --update

Next you can check the version of updated Rkhunter by using –

sudo rkhunter --versioncheck

How to use Rkhunter on Ubuntu

Check your system for any threats by using –

sudo rkhunter --check

Press enter each time it ask for your confirmation.

system check

For more rkhunter commands you can view its man page by using –

man rkhunter

Additional info: rkhunter log file exists at /var/log/rkhunter.log


Ok so now we hope you have successfully installed it and are able to use it for detecting and removal of rootkits from on your Ubuntu system.

Now if you have a query or feedback then write us in the comments below.

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