Thereâ€™s an awful lot of malware doing the rounds on the Internet and some of the most active and malevolent of these are the Trojan horse programs. They cause anywhere up to 90 percent of all malicious assaults on web usersâ€™ computers.
Greeks bearing gifts
A Trojan horse, or Trojan, will trick you into inadvertently installing viruses and rapidly access your computerâ€™s system to deploy a whole raft of other malware. It will probably also hijack the machineâ€™s online operations and purloin authentication data from personal files.
Named from the Trojan horse of the Iliad, a â€˜giftâ€™ from the Greeks to get into the besieged city in Homerâ€™s ancient epic, this modern digital counterpart hides behind files, applications and email attachments that seem benign enough to gain entry to your system. Once activated, it can inflict all manner of damage to computers, servers and indeed to the users themselves. There are so many different types of Trojans that they even have their own etymology, such as â€˜password stealerâ€™, â€˜remote accessâ€™ and â€˜key loggerâ€™.
Symptoms of attack Â Â Â Â Â Â
Because Trojans work in the background they can be difficult to detect, but there are a number of signs that can give them away, including:
- Programs kick off automatically.
- The PC wonâ€™t boot up.
- Programs and applications appear without your knowledge of ever having them.
- Documents and files suddenly disappear.
- You get redirected to websites you donâ€™t want when browsing.
Once it has gained entry to your computerâ€™s system, the amount and types of harm it can wreak are practically limitless. It can worm its way into the PCâ€™s registry, its nervous system if you like, and change the basic functionality of the computer. It can modify your computerâ€™s start-up programs and record personal data such as names and passwords.
When youâ€™re working online the Trojan will be sitting somewhere in the background quietly lifting sensitive data such as your bank account data and credit card numbers. It can spread more malicious software throughout the system and allow remote hackers to get into all your files. Attacks can be launched with ease from other computers, and basically your walls are down and the game is up: the Greeks will then storm in and do whatever they like.
There are no solve-all solutions to protect users against Trojan horse infections. Anti-virus software can deal with many of them and should certainly be installed but thereâ€™s always the possibility that some will breach the defenses.
A comprehensive defense needs to be set up which employs a number of elements such as security add-ons for the browser and antivirus programs and other shields. Users can take advantage of deals on security software by using aÂ couponÂ for example, and as different security patches become available these can be used to update various vulnerable applications and the operating system. Here are a few suggestions:
- Set up an effective firewall to guard your gateway to the Internet.
- Install an anti-virus program and keep its database updated using a Norton antivirus coupon or other recommended method.
- Use security add-ons such as NoScript, Web of Trust (WOT) or HTTPS to keep your browser protected whilst surfing.
- Always suspect any email that comes from an unidentified source. A favorite Trojan trick is to get you to open an attachment with the promise of a reward of some kind, which then lets the malware into your system.
In the world of malware and viruses, cyber-criminals are becoming increasingly adept at fashioning Trojan horses that can breach evolving defenses as the Internet continues to permeate most aspects of our lives. The whole strategy is to hide a malicious entity behind a benevolent faÃ§ade. Trojans have been around for a great many years, but as online activity expands and grows, the criminal element are designing new Trojans all the time. These are made for all the new devices that are being used to hook up to the Internet, from MACs and PCs to tablets and smartphones.
Itâ€™s a common mistake to imagine that only a particular type of device such as a PC is the main target, because in fact any device whatsoever that sets up an Internet connection will be vulnerable to Trojan horse attacks.
The best advice is to find effective antivirus software for not just your PC but for every device you use that accesses the Internet and to make sure that you keep it up to date. Cyber-criminals may be smart but so is good antivirus software, which will seek to stay one step ahead of them.