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Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online
Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online

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1.2 Trojans

An image of a wooden Trojan horse being pulled along on a cart.
Figure 3

The final major type of malware is the Trojan (or Trojan horse) – named after the wooden horse that supposedly smuggled Greek soldiers into the ancient city of Troy.

A Trojan disguises itself as an entirely legitimate program (such as a screensaver), but behind the scenes it is causing damage – perhaps allowing someone else to gain control of the computer, copying personal information, deleting information, monitoring keystrokes, or using email software to pass itself on to other computers. Unlike viruses and worms, Trojans are not self-replicating − they rely on their apparent usefulness to spread between computers.

Some Trojans work in isolation. Some, however, rely on networks, either to transmit stolen information – such as passwords, bank account details or credit card numbers – or to act as back doors to compromised computers. They allow attackers to bypass the operating system’s security features and gain access to data or even control the machine over a network.

Trojans have become a serious problem with Android apps.