Just like Odysseus used his wooden horse as a cover to sneak soldiers past Trojan’s defenses and destroy Troy, Trojan malware downloads other programs without your knowledge and hides them on your computer without your awareness. These hidden software are then used for various activities including spying with spyware, sending text messages to premium-rate numbers or stealing login credentials from instant messaging platforms.
What is a Trojan?
Trojans are malware (malicious software). Like viruses and worms, they can damage or delete files, redirect web traffic away from legitimate websites, steal information and even create backdoor access points on infected devices.
Trojans can be an immense hassle, but they’re more than just destructive. Many Trojans actually generate revenue for hackers; one of the first such trojans to do this was ANIMAL in 1975 which deleted system files until an infected computer paid a $189 ransom payment.
Trojans differ from viruses in that they’re installed directly by hackers; viruses spread without intervention from users, while trojans must be manually downloaded onto devices by humans. They often come disguised as free software or music downloads, or ads that pop-up when visiting websites you visit.
Examples of Trojan malware:
SMS Trojan: This mobile-device-attacking malware steals text message data and forwards them to premium-rate numbers to increase phone costs. Banking Trojans target financial accounts such as banks, credit cards, bill pay services or gaming services by obtaining account information pertaining to banks, credit cards and bill pay services as well as gaming platforms containing account data of gamers – with one even targeting online gamers in order to steal account details for online gaming services! Gaming Trojans target online gamers as they steal account details directly.
Rootkit Trojan: This type of malicious program tries to conceal objects on an infected device, prolonging the time that malicious code goes undetected. Fake AV Trojan: These pretend to be antivirus software but demand payments for protection against real or imagined threats.
How do Trojans infect your computer?
Trojans, one of the oldest forms of malware, infiltrate computers or devices through programs that look normal – making them less visible than viruses which tend to stand out more visibly.
Trojans often come through emails that look legitimate, or can even come directly downloaded. To detect one, look out for programs that eat up your processing power (RAM). On PCs this can be found by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del to open your Task Manager; while on Macs Finder will do the trick. For any software which appears to consume memory quickly search it online to see if there are reviews about it and see if any complaints exist online about its presence.
Information stealer malware tracks your activities by recording keyboard actions or taking screenshots, while banking Trojans such as Tiny Banker can steal account passwords, credit card info and other financial details from you. And SMS Trojans or ransomware Trojans lock down access to your data or devices before demanding money in exchange.
Backdoor Trojans allow hackers remote access to infected computers and devices without their owners knowing. Attackers can then use this access to install other malware, send spam emails, monitor networks for attacks and even create botnets controlled by attackers. Other types of Trojans include rootkits that conceal harmful programs to stay longer on computers.
What are the most common types of Trojans?
Trojans are among the most versatile types of malware, taking on various forms and styles. Droppers, loaders and rootkits are some of the more frequently seen examples; downloaders collect files from your device before dropping another threat such as banking Trojans later down the road; while game-thief Trojans seek to acquire gaming account information.
Backdoor Trojans provide hackers with unwitting access to your device, giving them remote access to download or execute additional malware, spy on you and even build botnets of devices for use in attacks.
DDoS Trojans are designed to hijack devices and use them for distributed denial of service attacks by overwhelming their network or device with traffic that it cannot handle, temporarily disrupting services as it overwhelms other devices. These attacks may temporarily shut down websites or services as their devices become overwhelmed with traffic from other infected machines or networks. Fake antivirus Trojans masquerade as antivirus programs or software and demand money to detect and eliminate threats–often fake ones. Trojans that target instant messaging steal usernames and passwords to popular IM services so attackers can monitor your conversations. Trojan horses scour bank accounts, email accounts and social media to access and steal personal and financial data from people like you. Some Trojans even try to conceal themselves on mobile devices so as to divert SMS text messages sent directly to premium rate numbers that drive up phone bills – much like what happened with Ulysses and his wooden horse!
How do you protect yourself from Trojans?
Though you cannot fully prevent Trojan malware attacks, you can reduce your risk. First and foremost, always review your device’s security settings. Make sure all software applications and operating systems have received updates containing important patches to close security holes. Backup data regularly just in case an infection strikes – stay suspicious of email attachments from unknown senders; and never click links that seem odd even if sent by people you know!
Trojans can hide in various files, from games and music downloads, to email attachments and potentially harmful websites. Be wary when downloading apps from third-party app download sites as these could contain Trojans; be wary too of clicking pop-up ads that may reveal dangerous downloads.
Some of the most dangerous Trojans include downloader Trojans, which download malware onto a victim’s machine, and spyware Trojans, which steal information like logins and passwords from instant messaging apps like instant Messaging Apps like Yahoo Mail. Banking Trojans such as Zeus Trojan can infiltrate devices to steal logins for bank accounts; rootkit Trojans exist to cover up existing malware on devices and allow hackers access for longer. DDOS attacks using these types of Trojans can also occur.