The Modern Trojan War

Much like the ancient world, the internet is filled with wonder and danger. Cities fought and wars raged. One such war was that of the war between Troy and Sparta. Most of us know the way that story ended, with the fall of Troy. The ultimate weapon…the Trojan Horse, a gift to the Trojans to signal the end of the war. The horse was a wonder, filled with danger.

Lately, the fight to keep computers safe has felt much like the Trojan War, seemingly endless. Another similarity is the use of a type of virus to infect these machines, known as a Trojan. According to SC Magazine, the Zero Access Trojan, also known as Sirefef is the number one attack used today by hackers around the world. Recent experience would tend to confirm this data, as nearly every virus infection we have dealt with at B.I.T.S. has been this Zero Access Trojan.

The Trojans would have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they had just burned the horse, like many had suggested. As much fun as it sounds sometimes, we are not suggesting that you set your computer on fire and watch it burn. We are suggesting you find the gates the horse could be dragged in through and shut them. Plug-ins for your browser may be vulnerable if they have not been updated and are an opening that is frequently exploited. As we have discussed before, unpatched software is one of the easiest ways for a hacker to infect your computer. Some applications to make sure you update often are Java, Adobe Reader (which installs a plug-in that allows you to read PDF files inside the browser), and Adobe Flash Player. Secunia PSI ( can help make this task easier by scanning your machine for out-of-date applications and updating them for you. This tool isn’t a magic fix, but it does help. This virus is distributed via infected websites and pop-up ads. Be aware of the sites you are visiting, and if they have pop-up ads, these ads may be infected, even without them knowing it. Following basic security best practices such as using a firewall and having up-to-date antivirus software will reduce the risk of infection.

The Trojans may have had no way of knowing what was in that horse, but we can learn from their misfortune and keep our systems safe on the internet by remembering to always “beware Greeks bearing gifts,” by staying wary of pop-ups, and staying away from links promising the wonders of the world,” if you just click here.” Follow these suggestions and security best practices it is likely this and other modern day Trojans will never breach your defenses.

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