Trojan Horse or Virus – Do you know the difference?

They inherit names like Melissa, Thursday and Chernobyl, but what are they? These three were viruses. Another popular cyber warfare tactic is use of a trojan horse program.

Trojan horses operate by pretending to do one thing (obvious to the victim) while really doing something else (unknown to the victim). Trojan horses work because they send the victim a “gift” to keep the victim occupied while they perform their cyber terrorism.

A recent AOL trojan horse sent surfers an offer to log onto AOL for free but when he/she loaded the attachment, the program emailed the person’s password and log-on name to the hacker. A scarier trojan horse scheme debuted on CBS’ 60 Minutes several weeks ago and showed how hackers could obtain bank accounts and passwords using these programs. Hackers send the victim an email that appears to be from a bank where the victim just opened a bank account. The person receives an animated cartoon (obvious to the victim) and the trojan horse (unknown to the victim) that will email that person’s sensitive data to the hackers. Trojan horses usually go undetected by antivirus programs because they don’t operate like a virus.

Viruses, on the other hand, are destructive programs that act as harmless applications. They typically are loaded onto a person’s computer against his/her wishes and his/her knowledge. Simple viruses work by making a copy of themselves over and over until it uses all available memory. A more threatening virus can transmit itself across networks while bypassing networks. Antivirus programs can filter out most viruses except for the latest, greatest plague concocted by hackers. A worm is a virus that cannot attach itself to other programs but that does replicate itself and uses memory.

Avoid Trojan Horses And Viruses

Make it a habit not to open attachments sent to you by strangers. Just delete them – it’s safer.

Think twice before opening “junk” email from friends. They could already be a victim of a trojan horse.

Don’t open email from strangers. You never know when a harmless spam could be deadly for your computer.

Keep an eye on the latest cyber crimes by bookmarking this site.

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