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Cyber Safety Glossary

Trojan Horses

Also Known As:

Malware, Virus.

A Trojan Horse appears to be a useful, legitimate file or software program, but once installed, it can cause havoc with a computer by damaging or deleting files. Just as the Trojan people were deceived into accepting the Greeks' gift of a monumental horse, users are often tricked into accepting the Trojan Horse software. One Trojan Horse scam claims that its program will rid the computer of viruses; another might claim to have pornographic images. The unsuspecting user opens the file or downloads the software and the damage is done. Unlike Viruses and Worms, a Trojan Horse is not designed to replicate itself. Some Trojan Horse programs open a backdoor into the computer, allowing unscrupulous individuals to steal sensitive financial and identity information.

How to Recognize This Threat:
If a file or an offer to download a software program looks "too good to be true," it just might be a Trojan Horse. Unsolicited messages with an executable (.exe) file or zipped (.zip) attachment can also include a Trojan Horse.

What Should I Do:
Avoid opening an executable file (.exe) sent via email. It is recommended for every computer user to have anti-virus software loaded on their computer. Furthermore, the anti-virus software should have the capability of being automatically updated to ensure it protects against new Trojan Horses. It should also automatically scan incoming and outgoing email. On a regular basis - at least weekly - the anti-virus software should automatically scan every file on the computer. Users should also have firewall protection. Make sure the latest updates of the computer's operating system are installed.