In the famous ancient Greek epic The Iliad, Greek soldiers trick the city of Troy by building a giant wooden horse, filling it with soldiers, and leaving it outside the gates as a “gift.” Thinking it was the Greek army’s way of admitting defeat, the Trojans brought the horse inside. That night as the Trojan soldiers slept, the Greeks left the horse and captured the city.

Though it may seem superfluous, this story actually carries a lesson still applicable in the modern age: Be wary of gifts that seem too good to be true. This is especially relevant when it comes to internet usage, where the aptly named Trojan horse virus (Trojan) runs rampant.

What Is a Trojan?

A Trojan is malware that uses social engineering to trick users into downloading the virus. This particular malicious software comes in a variety of forms, including the following:

  • Apps
  • Fake antivirus offers
  • Email attachments
  • Fake system or application updates
  • Fake prizes
  • Fake discounts or offers of free items

Many of these are created to look legitimate, sometimes even spoofing popular games or companies. However, once you download the malware, a cybercriminal has access to your system.

Why Do Hackers Use It?

When it comes to infiltrating devices, the Trojan is a perfect weapon. It takes advantage of users’ trust, inexperience or greed by promising something it never intends to deliver. Because this form of social engineering is so successful, Trojans have become one of the most common types of malware on the world wide web.

As for why hackers would want access to your device in the first place, there are several answers. Cybercriminals unleash Trojans with the intent to

  • Gain access to a device’s files and other information
  • Install keystroke logging software to obtain passwords, financial information and personally identifiable information (PII) like your birthdate or social security number
  • Turn a device into a “zombie” they can use for further illegal activity

Hackers then either use the information themselves or sell it to identity thieves. “Zombie” devices, also known as bots, can be used to perpetuate further cyberattacks, such as DDoS attacks, or used to cover a cybercriminal’s tracks. For example, if a hacker uses a bot to illegally access a network, that device’s IP address will appear as the source of the attack, thereby hiding the hacker’s own computer.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

The best defense may be a suspicious nature. Be cautious of emails that sound urgent or otherwise seek to elicit an emotional response. Be wary of winning contests you never entered or offers that seem too good to be true.

Having antivirus software is also essential, as it can detect and stop this type of malware. Many suites can also scan links in search results and attachments in emails.

Super Source GmbH offers antivirus and IT expertise to keep your systems protected. Find out more by visiting our website.