I suppose you should always be worried about any advice that begins with
"hey, download this unknown executable from the internet and run it on your Virus Hosting Platform^B^B^B^B^B^B^B^B^B^B^B^B^B^B^BWindows Machine"
But that applies to even things like "Odin v3.09". Or "Android Phone rooting toolkits". They are also just executables, and certainly just as capable of hosting malware installed (even unknowingly) by persons that re-upload it.
But in particular, the thing that got everybody's hackles up was that it bears all the "hallmarks" of malware:
- published by an author with an inscrutable monetization strategy*
- by its intended purpose, is authored by folks skilled in software exploits (but... blackhat or whitehat)?
- uses an "attack server" architecture. (Downloads payloads off the internet in order to run to completion)
- closed source
- contacts multiple sites on the internet during setup and/or operation
- uploads to the internet information gleaned from host and target systems
- at runtime uses code obfuscation procedures that are typical of malware
What the OP is currently after is a way to replace it with something that will still root the phone, but do so in a way that seems less suspicious - for instance has no need to ever contact remote machines on the internet, and no need to even use a PC, either. But let's be honest - any time you turn your device over to a piece of software that has the objective of rooting either a remote host or the one it is running on, you are implicitly handing that device over to that software if it succeeds. If it is completely open source, and you compile it, install it, and run it yourself - after having looked through the code to judge it's safety... well, you might be able to say with confidence that "this looks pretty safe".
OTOH, doing that (open source) also makes it pretty darn easy for defenders (e.g. Samsung or Google if it is an Android kernel exploit) to patch the hole directly without doing the corresponding exploit discovery themselves.
I'm not saying that Kingo is malicious though; I really don't know. I can think of very compelling reasons why it operates exactly the way it does:
1) Rooting methods vary by device, carrier, and software release version. That means that a "universal" and static Android rooting tool with encyclopedic knowledge of all current rooting methods would have to bundle in a single download package an enormous collection of exploit vectors. Hundreds and hundreds of megabytes of stuff ... per handset. Live device detection eliminates the need for that - and the bill from the server hosting company for excessive bandwith usage.
2) Rooting methods come and go. A client-server attack method can determine immediately if something it tried succeeded or failed - on every single attempt. And collect reliable information about software release versions, model numbers, carrier in use, etc. Compare that to a piecemeal, scarce, non-uniform and unreliable method of trying to intuit that information by hand out of forum reports written by folks who many times have no computer skills at all. It's light-years better in reliability and breadth.
I was going to also say "Open Source of an attack reduces it's effectiveness", but that opens a whole can of worms, as the position one takes on that particular statement probably is the bright line dividing the white hat and black hat ethical spheres.
*hey wait a minute - isn't that everybody on XDA?
What he said
I would like to add that the coders of kingo have gone above and beyond trying to hide there exploits methods and everything around it. i would do the same if i had a exclusive exploit like this... Exploits cost money if you want to use them. nothing is free nothing. They get something out of it. Or they would not return emails or update the software Would you? It sure as **** is not advertising on there site.
fyi one of the files that is download from kingos servers is called root_kit_base.sbin