The Infamous Trojan Horse Virus: What it is & What it does

A Trojan Horse belongs to a subset of computer viruses that are distinctly known to disguise its status as a virus by presenting itself as downloadable software, often under the guise of being useful to the user in some way, or as entertainment media files. By doing so, the victim is less likely to hesitate when clicking on the infected link (In this sense, it bears a striking resemblance to its mythical namesake: the Greek Trojan Horse). This type of malware is commonly used by cyber thieves to gain access to a victim’s computer, making the device remotely accessible to the Hacker’s computer. I doing to, the Hacker is able to post spam, or steal sensitive information, the most valuable being the user’s bank details.

For example, a type of Trojan which was discovered in 2009 called URLZone not only targeted the user’s banking details, but was also programmed to steal money from its victim’s account, while falsely displaying a fake balance when the user is logged in.

Unlike its counterparts, the ‘Worm Virus,’ a Trojan horse cannot duplicate itself. However, because it  is designed to alter a computer’s security system, thereby creating a backdoors into the computer, this allows a hacker to remotely infect the device with a wide variety of other types of viruses. In this case, it is comparable to actual HIV virus, which destroys the immune system of its victims.

Trojan Viruses typically do not spread as quickly as Worm Viruses, which capitalize on self-replication. Nevertheless, when a network of Trojan-infected computers is established, it is called a Botnet, and can lead to some of the most damaging types of Cyber Attacks. Overall, the infected network of computers will be controlled by the main Hacker’s computer. The botnet can then spread chaos by having the Hacker act through the master computer as a ‘bot herder,’ commanding the infected computers, aptly called ‘zombies,’ to send phishing emails, or spam (among other rather dreadful things), in vast amounts.

A notable example was the Storm Virus, a hybrid type of Worm-Trojan Virus, which, in 2007, was able to infect more than 1 million computers – the most a single type of virus has ever been able to infect. The Storm Malware was unique, in that it was the first Trojan that was able to be operated from multiple servers. The Trojan would initially catch a user’s attention by displaying text mimicking a news article that read ‘230 dead as storm batters Europe,’ after which, through clicking the message, it would then create a ‘Backdoor,’ linking many infected computers to the hacker, who would then promptly steal data, and input large amounts of spam into the infected devices.

Although the initial creator of the Storm Virus remains undiscovered, it has survived to the present day through developers who continuously seek to use its code in order to scam people all over the world. Indeed, Trojans can evolve quickly and are hard to detect, being able to store itself in a victim’s computer for long periods of time without being found. Because of this, it remains a very popular virus used among Cyber criminals, who are constantly reinventing its code for malicious purposes.

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