What are Trojan Horses and Phishing?

Trojan horses and phishing can be two of the biggest threats you face when you venture online or use email. These two types of web crime function very differently, but they can both harm you financially and involve an invasion of your privacy. A quality antivirus software can help you avoid Trojan horses, but it takes additional security measures to avoid becoming a victim of phishing.

What is a Trojan Horse?

The original Trojan horse can be found in the myths of ancient Greece. It was a wooden structure that was designed to look like a giant horse, but there was a space inside where soldiers could hide. The impressive creation was left outside of Troy. This city had successfully fought off a siege by the Greeks for ten years, but the rulers decided to open the gates and pull the giant horse inside. It was a tactical error because it allowed the enemy access to their fortress.

A computer Trojan horse works in a similar way to the one from ancient Greece. It is designed to look like a harmless program but once it gains access to your machine, it can begin to cause mischief. Some of the most common types of Trojan horse would include:

  • Backdoor Trojans compromises your security so that other malicious software can gain access to your computer
  • Remote access Trojans allow other people to take over your machine
  • Keyloggers are a particularly dangerous type of malware because they are able to record the keys you press on your keyboard - this allows criminals to steal you passwords.

Once people have control of your computer, they can use it to:

  • Observe you through your webcam
  • Use your computer to commit a crime
  • Gather personal information and steal your identity
  • Steal you files
  • See what you are looking at on the screen
  • Corrupt your files
  • Cause your computer to crash irreversibly

A Trojan horse doesn’t replicate on your machine, so it is not technically a computer virus. It is a type of malicious software, and this means that a decent antivirus package is likely to keep you safe. It is important to choose a product that comes with regular updates because the creators of Trojans are constantly working to find new ways gain access to your computer.

What is Phishing?

Phishing sounds like ‘fishing’ and it is similar to this hobby because the criminals use bait to try to hook you. It is more like the traditional type of scam because the perpetrator is trying to trick you with words rather using malicious software. The usual aim with this type of crime is to get you to reveal personal information about yourself such as your credit card security number or banking password.

One of the most common types of phishing scam involves sending you an email from your bank. This can look very official with all the right layout and logo. The email will say something worrying, such as ‘your account has been frozen’, and you will be asked to press on a link and login with your username and password. The problem is that this email is not from your bank at all, and you are going to be giving your details to a complete stranger.

The criminals involved in phishing scams are getting more sophisticated all the time. It used to be fairly easy to spot these dodgy emails because of bad spelling and template design flaws, but this is no longer the case. Even people who would be considered savvy internet users are being caught out by these scams. This is why it is best never to press on any links in an email unless you are sure about where it is going to take you. If the message appears to be from your bank, you can go directly to your account without using the link.

A basic antivirus software package is not going to be enough to stop phishing, but you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim of this scam by purchasing a security suite. This premium product costs a bit more, but it comes with additional features such as anti-phishing technology.

 

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