A trojan is a type of malware that is often disguised as legitimate software.

What Is a Trojan?

A trojan is a type of malware that is often disguised as legitimate software. The trojan can be employed by cyber-criminals and hackers that are trying to get access to your system. Users are typically tricked by some form of social engineering in order to load and execute the trojan files on their system, and once they are activated, the trojan can enable the cyber-criminals to actually spy on you, steal any of your sensitive data or gain backdoor access to your system and manipulate your files.

The term “trojan” actually derives from the ancient Greek story about the deceptive Trojan horse that led to the fall of the city of Troy. Now, your computer is not the city of Troy, but can fall just as well, since a trojan operates similarly due to the fact that it hides within harmless programs or tries to trick you into downloading it. The name was originally coined in a US Air Force report in 1974, which speculated that computers could potentially be compromised.

Now, you will oftentimes encounter people which address a “trojan” as a trojan virus or a trojan horse virus; however, these terms can be misleading. The trojan itself cannot self-replicate but spreads through pretending to be useful software or content while secretly containing malicious instructions.

A trojan has to be executed by the victim in order to work. It can infect the device in several ways. If a user falls victim to a phishing or other social engineering attack by opening an infected email, they can activate the trojan. Attackers can also install a trojan through exploiting a software vulnerability or through unauthorized access. Hackers can create even fake Wi-Fi hotspots networks that look like the one a user is trying to connect to, and when the user inevitably does, they can be redirected to fake websites that contain browser exploits that can predict any file that they try to download.