A Trojan Horse, or a Trojan, is an all-inclusive term used to portray any sort of malware ready to infect your machine by deceiving you of its actual aim. Trojans usually impersonate useful programs or applications in order to gain access to a machine then it lies in wait to later harm your PC or other devices when you least anticipate it. The goal of most trojan horse malware is to steal sensitive and confidential information and act as a gateway for other malware and viruses to infiltrate the machine.
While the purpose of this malware varies the intention is always malicious, and the means of infection is always to deceive a user to download it. Much like the original Trojan Horse from Greek history modern day Trojan Horses appear to be something that the user wants like a free download on some normally expensive software or an attachment on an email. Once the user gives the seemingly official program permission to install the malware infects the computer and can do just about anything.
The specific goal of a Trojan Horse can vary wildly but most fall into the following categories:
Intercepting passwords and personal details (ex. Infostealer Trojans and SMS Trojans)
Stealing bank and financial details (ex. Banker Trojans)
Hold devices and information hostage (ex. Ransomware Trojans)
Gaining control of your computer network (ex. Remote Access Trojans)
Shutting down business networks or websites (ex. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Trojans)
So how should you protect yourself or your business from Trojan Horse Malware? As with most cyber security threats, the best way to protect yourself is to have up-to-date cybersecurity and anti-virus software. Frequently scanning and being wary of any suspicious emails or programs that you either have not scanned or are not 100% certain of the source is always the best practice, but in today's world, this is rarely enough. Other ways to keep Trojans at bay include keeping software up to date especially crucial programs like operating systems and web browsers, keeping your internet connection secure, and maintain an up-to-date firewall. While no method is foolproof following all these recommendations can greatly reduce you or your business's exposure to Trojan Horse Malware.
If you've read this article, you're already taking positive steps to avoid downloading a Trojan, but there are many other serious threats out there. Red Sea Information Security offers services in Penetration Testing, Auditing, Network Assessment, and Generalized Information Technology support which includes Security Awareness Training for threats like Trojan Horses.