Trojan horse – What is it? Virus or malware?

Trojan horse – What is it? Virus or malware?

Types of Trojans

Trojans are versatile and very popular, so it’s difficult to characterize every kind. That said, most Trojans are designed to take control of a user’s computer, steal data, spy on users, or insert more malware on to a victim’s computer. Here are some common threats that come from Trojan attacks:

  • Backdoors, which create remote access to your system. This kind of malware changes your security to allow the hacker to control the device, steal your data, and even download more malware.
  • Spyware, which watches as you access online accounts or enter your credit card details. They then transmit your passwords and other identifying data back to the hacker.
  • Zombifying Trojans, which take control of your computer to make it a slave in a network under the hacker’s control. This is the first step in creating a botnet (robot + network), which is often used to perform a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack designed to take down a network by flooding it with traffic.
  • Downloader Trojans, Emotet being a good example, download and deploy other malicious modules, such as ransomware or keyloggers.
  • Dialer Trojans, which might seem anachronistic since we don’t use dial-up modems any longer. But more on this in the next section.

How do I remove a Trojan?

Once a Trojan infects your device, the most universal way to clean it up and restore it to a desired state is to use a good quality, automated anti-malware tool and make a full system scan.

There are many free anti-malware programs—including our own products for Windows, Android, and Mac—which detect and remove adware and malware. In fact, Malwarebytes detects all known Trojans and more, since 80% of Trojan detection is done by heuristic analysis. We even help mitigate additional infection by cutting off communication between the inserted malware and any backend server, which isolates the Trojan. The only exception is for protection against ransomware, for which you need our premium product.

How do I prevent Trojans?

Since Trojans rely on fooling users into letting them into the computer, most infections are avoidable by remaining vigilant and observing good security habits. Practice a healthy skepticism about websites offering free movies or gambling, opting instead to download free programs directly from the producer’s site rather than from unauthorized mirror servers.

Another precaution to consider: change the default Windows settings so that the real extensions of applications are always visible. This avoids getting tricked by an innocent looking icon.

Other good practices besides installing Malwarebytes for Windows, Malwarebytes for Android, and Malwarebytes for Mac include:

  • Running periodic diagnostic scans
  • Setting up automatic updates of your operating system software, ensuring you have the latest security updates
  • Keeping your applications updated, ensuring any security vulnerabilities are patched
  • Avoiding unsafe or suspicious websites
  • Being skeptical of unverified attachments and links in unfamiliar emails
  • Using complex passwords
  • Staying behind a firewall

How Malwarebytes Premium protects you

At Malwarebytes, we are serious about infection prevention, which is why we aggressively block both websites and advertisements that we consider fraudulent or suspicious. For example, we block torrent sites like The Pirate Bay. Though many savvy users have used such sites without issue, some of the files they offer for download are really Trojans. For similar reasons, we also block cryptomining through browsers, but the user can choose to turn off the block and connect.

Our reasoning is that it’s better to err on the side of safety. If you want to take the risk, it’s easy to whitelist a site, but even tech-savvy types can fall for a convincing Trojan.

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