A Trojan horse is an executable file which usually disguises itself as a useful program that appeals to the user. In reality is a malicious application that may arrive in your mailbox attached to an email disguised as a cool game or screen saver.
The trojan may also come attached as some other attractive application. The dangerous and tricky part of it is, often these harmful attachments appear to come from a friend, when in reality, it comes from foe who has infected your friend and they unknowingly passed the vicious program to you.
When downloaded and executed (run), this kind of program can be very harmful to your computer. In order to prevent yourself from being infected with a trojan, a good rule of thumb is to never download files from strangers and even be leery of opening attachments from people you know. Before opening any attachment it is good practice to verify with the sender whether or not they intentionally sent you a file before you download and execute it.
Once the trojan has been installed and executed, the file is activated and can cause havoc as a running program on your computer. Trojans are unlike viruses because viruses are a self-replicating type of code that affixes itself to a host file and cannot function without the host being run first, whereas the Trojan horse can operate on its own. The reason for this is because the trojan is a program in itself; it is not malicious code embedded in another program like the virus.
The trojan horse, like the ancient Greek army during the Trojan War, use trickery and masquerades as a useful program in order to ingratiate itself into your computer. It is designed to appear to look like it belongs alongside all your other computer program applications. The trojan does not replicate itself, but with just one click of the mouse it can do sufficient damage where it doesn’t need replication to do harm. The exploiter who sent the trojan can take over from this point and gain control over your computer.
If your system has been infected by a trojan, your computer often acts improperly. Trojans can cause massive damage to your computer system and personal transactions. By activating destructive trojan programs, your computer is opened up to many kinds of vulnerabilities and exploits. Data can be deleted, personal information and passwords can be compromised, files destroyed, or an unauthorized user can obtain complete access to your system and perhaps take control of it.
Preventative measures will help keep your computer trojan-free. It is a wise idea to educate yourself and learn how not to be “tricked” by the attractive Trojan; this is the strongest form of protection. You can protect yourself by updating your operating system with the latest releases and patches, install anti-virus and firewall software and make sure it is updated regularly. Additionally installing a good spyware program is another preventative measure in protecting your computer.
Trojan programs can really do damage to both your computer and your personal life if you use your computer for personal transactions. Nothing is ever 100%, but by being knowledgeable and proactive, you can significantly reduce the chances of your computer being infected.