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Trojan Viruses: Look out for hidden invaders

Thursday, October 07, 2021 by Melita

Trojan Viruses: Look out for hidden invaders

If there was ever a time when you should look a gift horse in the mouth, it is now! With so many people spending so much time online, cybercriminals have jumped on the bandwagon to become smarter and more difficult to detect. One of the many tools these cyber thieves have at their disposal is a Trojan virus – a form of malware (malicious software) that looks perfectly harmless but is not.

Trojan viruses are dirty computer programmes that harm, steal, or destroy data from an IT system. They present themselves as safe and useful files, but when opened boom!@£@$@; they soon turn into the cyber monsters that they were created to be.  

The name Trojan comes from the Greek legend, in which a large wooden horse was wheeled into the city of Troy. The inhabitants of the city thought it was a gift, but Greek soldiers were hidden inside it, ready to attack and cause havoc. 

How does it work?

When it comes to computers, a Trojan virus acts similarly to the Greek’s Trojan horse. It hides, acts normal, then tricks you into downloading it. The virus is often hidden in a file or a folder which forms part of a set of downloaded files or folders and looks perfectly safe and useful. But, once opened, it’s cyber mayhem and a nightmare for the user. A Trojan virus infects the device rapidly to give cyber thieves control over vital functions, either to steal or encrypt sensitive data or to use the device to commit fraud. A Trojan virus can also lie dormant in a system for a while and will only infect the device once opened by the user.

In a similar manner to medical viruses (although they have no connection to these), the virus multiplies and spreads as users download the file containing the virus and send it, most often unknowingly, to other users.

How would you know if you’re attacked?

While Trojan viruses are sometimes hard to detect, there are certain signs that might indicate their presence on your device. These can include:

  • Annoying and excessive pop-ups have made your screen their home
  • Your mouse or keyboard has acquired a life of their own
  • Your desktop has turned a funny shade of your least favourite colour
  • Programmes like Word and Excel have taken a leave of absence 
  • Your device has turned into a sloth

How can you protect yourself?

Here is our Melita guide to help you protect your devices from Trojan viruses.

  • Gear up, suit up, and be ready. Use a firewall or anti-malware software. These will keep track of internet traffic and can help to prevent a Trojan virus from being download on your device in the first place. Always make sure that your security applications are updated, and licenses are renewed.
  • Don’t do it. Do not download or install programmes unless you are doing so from an official website and a reputable source. 
  • Don’t speak to strangers. Do not open unsolicited emails from people you do not know and never open attachments unless you are sure of their sender and contents.
  • Do not spread the love. A user whose device is infected may send infected files to their contacts without being aware. If you are unsure about the contents of a link or attachment, verify with the person first and warn them of this suspicious content being sent out from their accounts.