What is a Trojan Horse?

What is a Trojan Horse?
In the computer environment, a Trojan horse is a program that disguises itself as a useful application. In addition to the obvious functions, it has hidden functions that are executed unnoticed by the user. These can be harmful actions such as opening backdoors or downloading more malware.

The terms Trojan horse or Trojan in the computer environment stand for a computer program that masquerades as a useful application but has hidden functions unknown to the user. These are executed in the background without the user’s knowledge and can be malicious in nature. Trojans are categorized as malware and unwanted software, although the hidden functions may not always be harmful.

What is a Trojan Horse?

The Trojan differs from a virus in that it acts as a host for the actual malicious code and can, in principle, inject any type of code. A Trojan horse does not have the mechanisms that contribute to self-propagation.

Trojans are often installed by users themselves, under the assumption that it is a normal application. Once installed, the Trojan horse opens backdoors to reload malicious code or runs malicious programs such as keyloggers. The so-called “federal Trojan” is a Trojan intended to be used for online searches in cases of serious crime in law enforcement or security.

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The origin of the name Trojan Horse.

The name is derived from the mythological tale of the Trojan War. Here, a wooden horse is said to have been used that the besieged inhabitants of Troy voluntarily let into the city, and inside it were fighters of the Greek besiegers. By this ruse it was possible to capture the city.

Possible harmful functions of a Trojan

A Trojan can host any harmful or harmless functions. For example, Trojans with malicious code perform the following hidden functions:

  • Opening a backdoor on the computer to give access to hackers
  • Stealing data
  • Loading additional malicious software
  • Taking control of the computer by a hacker
  • Integrating the computer into a botnet
  • Execution of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks
  • Recording user input (keylogger)
  • Reading data traffic
  • Spying on user IDs and passwords
  • The deactivation of anti-virus programs or the firewall
  • The installation of dialer programs
  • The display of unwanted advertising
  • Encrypting data and extorting a ransom (ransomware)
  • Using computer resources for other purposes, such as mining digital currencies.

Protective measures against Trojans

To protect against Trojans, users must be sensitized. They should never install software unknown to them or programs from dubious sources on the computer, even if they claim to perform useful functions. Downloading software on the Internet should only be done from trusted sites. In addition, the usual measures against malware must be taken, such as the use of up-to-date antivirus programs and firewalls.

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Regular updates and patches must be applied to the operating systems and applications used. Caution is also advised with e-mail attachments containing executable files (.exe files). Malicious programs or Trojans may also be hidden in other file types.