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What is a Trojan?

written by: Matt Isaac•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 8/30/2010

A trojan horse application, often referred to simply as, "trojan", is one of the worst infections on the web.

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    What does Greek Poetry have in common with information technology?

    Trojans, unlike many forms of malware, do not usually carry a typical payload, nor do they self-replicate. They are not intended to turn a computer into a DDoS(Distributed Denial of Service) drone, advertise to the user or collect personal information.

    The name, as it would imply, is derived from an old, mythical Trojan War story told by Virgil. In Aeneid, the Greeks ended their siege of Troy by hiding soldiers within a large wooden horse given to the Trojans as a deceiving gift. Once within the impenetrable walls they were able to conquer Troy from the inside out.

    Just as the wooden horse provided the Greeks a means of entry by way of a gift in disguise, so a trojan horse application provides access to computers for hackers and malware. They are often disguised as another type of useful software, fooling the user into punching a hole in security. While the user is blindly enjoying the use of a new piece of software, new malware may be setting up shop through the newly opened hole. Once one of these digital backdoors has infected a computer system, cyber-criminals and malware can use them to gain access for an assortment of purposes. Trojans have been linked with data-theft, DDoS(Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, cyber-surveillance, direct system takeover, etc. This across-the-board partnering with malware and hackers make this software one of the most dangerous of it's kind.

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    Prevention

    Most trojan horses can be prevented with little effort utilizing a run-of-the-mill anti-malware or internet security application. Running scans and updates on a consistent basis will help prevent troublesome security breaches which could lead to painstaking repair work. Above all, users need to pay attention to the legitimacy of websites and content they use. Free offers, warez sites and other shady sites are breading grounds for infections which should be avoided at all cost. Users shouldn't purchase or download applications which they are not familiar. Without a little research prior to the addition of new software, a computers safety cannot be guaranteed.