What Are Trojans And How Can You Protect Yourself From Them?

Trojan Horse

Trojan horses are a type of malware that appears as a legitimate program to trick users. But when the user downloads the program, the Trojan infects their system. They derive their name from Greek mythology. There are many different kinds of Trojans, which can perform a wide variety of malicious activities. Here’s what you need to know about Trojans and how you can protect your devices from them.

What Are Trojans?

A Trojan or Trojan horse is a common form of malware that masquerades as a legitimate piece of software. They are not true viruses because they can’t spread on their own. Instead, the user downloads them, believing they are a legitimate tool or program.

Once a Trojan is on your computer, there are many different kinds of harmful actions it can take. Here are some of the most common types of Trojans:

  • Trojan-Downloader: A virus that downloads and installs malware.
  • Trojan-Droppers: Programs that hackers use to install viruses. Antivirus software usually doesn’t detect them.
  • Ransomware: A Trojan that encrypts your data so you can no longer access it. The cybercriminal then demands you pay a ransom in exchange for the decryption key. However, they don’t always provide the key and it is extremely difficult or impossible to decrypt your data without it.
  • Trojan-Banker: Malware that steals your financial information such as credit card info and online banking accounts.
  • Trojan Rootkits: Programs that hide select activities on your computer and prevent you from detecting malware. This means the malware can run for a longer time on your computer before you realize something is wrong.
  • Backdoor Trojan: This is an especially common form of Trojan. It grants cybercriminals remote access to your computer so they have control over it. This means the hackers can send, receive, or delete files, tamper with your data, reboot your computer, and much more. Sometimes hackers use them to create a whole network of “Zombie” computers called a Botnet and commit cybercrimes.
  • Trojan-FakeAV: These types of Trojans appear as antivirus software. They claim that there are security threats on your computer, and offer to remove the threats in exchange for a fee. The threats don’t really exist, and in reality, the programs are trying to extort money from you.

What Are The Risks of Trojans?

There are dozens of different kinds of Trojans, and the damage they cause varies tremendously. Ransomware Trojans can encrypt your data so you can’t recover it, and other types of Trojans can steal your passwords, destroy or delete your files, or deactivate your antivirus and firewall programs. Trojans can also install keyloggers, which detect your keystrokes and can decipher your login information for online accounts.

Cybercriminals can also use Trojans to take over your computer and control it remotely to do their bidding. By doing so, the hackers can access all your files and accounts, steal your identity, or even use your computer to perform cyberattacks.

Trojans are an incredibly dangerous type of malware, and cybercriminals can use them for many different malicious purposes. In addition, they are extremely difficult to detect by users and are often missed by antivirus software.

How Do Trojans Infect Your Computer?

Trojan Horse ComputerTrojan horses masquerade as legitimate programs, and they infect computers when the user downloads them. They often appear as email attachments from trustworthy organizations or contacts from your contact list. The hacker uses these names to try and convince you to open links, files or websites. Trojan horses can also be disguised as free game downloads, websites, browser tools, or apps. Once you download the program, the Trojan gets installed and runs whenever your computer is turned on.

Trojans don’t spread on their own and typically require the user to download the false program. You can help prevent them from infecting your computer by never opening a file or downloading a program that you are unfamiliar with. Many malware-infected games also contain Trojan horses.

What Can I Do If Trojans Infect My Computer?

The two main ways that you can remove Trojans from your computer are Trojan remover software or by removing the malware manually.

Many antivirus companies offer Trojan removers as part of their services. One option is Avast Free Antivirus, which has a free Trojan remover. This program will identify any Trojans on your computer or device and remove them for you. Some other companies that offer Trojan remover tools are MalwareFox and Bitdefender.

If you prefer to try removing the Trojan manually, there is a series of steps you need to take. If your system is infected with a Trojan, you will often receive a DLL error. You can copy the error and do some online research to help you identify the affected exe file. Next, you’ll need to cancel your system restore function and restart your computer. As it reboots, press F8 and select Safe Mode. Then open your control panel and remove the Trojan files. The final step is to open the Windows System folder and delete the rest of the program files.

How Can I Protect My Devices From Trojans?

As with other forms of malware, there are some things you can do to protect your computer and devices from Trojans. Here are the most important ones:

  • Never open an attachment or download a program unless you know exactly what it is. This is true for all kinds of malware, but Trojans are a special case because they require action on the part of the user to infect your computer.
  • To further protect yourself against Trojans and other malware, use antivirus software from a trusted company. You might choose one that includes a Trojan remover, which will scan your system to make sure you haven’t accidentally downloaded a Trojan and will remove them from your computer if detected. Make sure to regularly scan your computer. We like Bitdefender as a company providing good antivirus software.
  • Keep your software up to date, including your operating system and your browser. Cybercriminals often identify vulnerabilities in software programs and exploit them to install malware. Software manufacturers frequently release updates that address these vulnerabilities, so it is essential you download the updates when available.
  • Use a firewall to help keep your Internet connection secure. These programs work to block unsolicited connections and can help prevent Trojans. Windows users have access to Windows Firewall and need to make sure it is turned on for extra protection.

Final Thoughts

Trojans are an incredibly varied kind of malware that can perform many different kinds of malicious activity on your computer. These activities may include stealing your financial information, logging your keystrokes, or even turning your computer into a zombie controlled by cybercriminals.

Though they are often downloaded by users, the user can also take action to prevent Trojans. By exercising basic security measures and using antivirus software with a Trojan remover, you can considerably decrease your risk of being infected by Trojans.

Tech journalist
Tove has been working for VPNoverview since 2017 as a journalist covering cybersecurity and privacy developments. She has broad experience developing rigorous VPN testing procedures and protocols for our VPN review section and has tested dozens of VPNs over the years.