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Trojan Horse….Greek Myth or Computer Nemesis?

Posted by cotojo on May 9, 2007

We have all heard the term Trojan Horse, but what exactly
is it?  A Trojan Horse is a destructive program that
masquerades as a harmless application. Unlike viruses,
Trojan Horses do not replicate themselves, but they can be
just as destructive. One of the most dangerous examples of
a Trojan is a program that promises to rid your computer of
viruses but instead introduces viruses into your computer.

The Trojan can be tricky. Who hasn’t been online and had
an advertisement pop up claiming to be able to rid your
computer of some nasty virus?  Or, even more frightening,
you receive an email that claims to be alerting you to a
new virus that can threaten your computer. The sender
promises to quickly eradicate, or protect, your computer
from viruses if you simply download their “free”, attached
software into your computer. You may be skeptical but the
software looks legitimate and the company sounds reputable.
You proceed to take them up on their offer and download the
software.  In doing so, you have just potentially exposed
yourself to a massive headache and your computer to a
laundry list of ailments. 

When a Trojan is activated, numerous things can happen.
Some Trojans are more annoying than malicious.  Some of the
less annoying Trojans may choose to change your desktop
settings or add silly desktop icons.  The more serious
Trojans can erase or overwrite data on your computer,
corrupt files, spread other malware such as viruses, spy on
the user of a computer and secretly report data like
browsing habits to other people, log keystrokes to steal
information such as passwords and credit card numbers,
phish for bank account details (which can be used for
criminal activities), and even install a backdoor into your
computer system so that they can come and go as they please.

To increase your odds of not encountering a Trojan, follow
these guidelines. 

1. Remain diligent
Trojans can infect your computer through rogue websites,
instant messaging, and emails with attachments.  Do not
download anything into your computer unless you are 100
percent sure of its sender or source.

2. Ensure that your operating system is always up-to-date.
If you are running a Microsoft Windows operating system,
this is essential.

3. Install reliable anti-virus software.  It is also
important that you download any updates frequently to catch
all new Trojan Horses, viruses, and worms.  Be sure that
the anti-virus program that you choose can also scan e-
mails and files downloaded through the internet.

4. Consider installing a firewall.  A firewall is a system
that prevents unauthorized use and access to your computer.
A firewall is not going to eliminate your computer virus
problems, but when used in conjunction with regular
operating system updates and reliable anti-virus software,
it can provide additional security and protection for your

Nothing can guarantee the security of your computer 100
percent. However, you can continue to improve your
computer’s security and decrease the possibility of
infection by consistently following these guidelines.

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