The internet has changed our lives in more ways than we can count. These days, anything we desire — whether it’s knowledge, career opportunities, or consumer products — is seemingly just a few clicks away from us.
And while it’s safe to say the impact of the internet has been an overall net positive, it’s also worth mentioning that its widespread adoption has introduced a number of new challenges we haven’t had to tackle before. Chiefly among them is the need to safeguard our personal data from the prying eyes of uninvited strangers.
These external threats on our data come in the form of malicious software, such as Trojan horses. Trojans are a type of malware that relies on social engineering to infect the device of an unsuspecting target. They get their name from the story of Odysseus when he hid his Greek soldiers inside a wooden horse to get inside the city of Troy.
Basically, Trojans infiltrate computer systems by masquerading as legitimate programs that are unwittingly downloaded and installed by the users. Hackers often use trojans to steal sensitive data such as medical, personal, or financial information. They are one of the most common types of malicious programs and can pose a threat to computer systems if left undetected.
In this article, we go over how to detect a Trojan infection and discuss some of the most effective ways to check for a Trojan on a Windows PC.
How can you tell if you have a Trojan virus?
Like any computer virus infection, a system that’s infected with a Trojan horse can display a wide range of symptoms. Here are the main signs you should look out for.
- Your computer is running slower than usual. Trojans tend to install additional malware that consumes computer processing unit (CPU) and memory resources. This can significantly slow your computer down and cause your operating system to become unstable and sluggish.
- Unauthorized apps are appearing on your device. A common symptom of Trojan infection is the sudden appearance of apps you don’t recall downloading or installing. If you notice an unfamiliar app from an unverified developer in your Windows Task Manager, there’s a good chance that it is malicious software installed by a Trojan.
- You experience constant operating system crashes and freezes. It’s not uncommon for Trojans to overwhelm your system and cause recurring crashes and freezes. An example of this is the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD), a Windows error screen that indicates that the system can longer operate safely due to hardware failure or the termination of an important process.
- You experience an increasing number of internet redirects. In some cases, a Trojan can manipulate the browser or modify domain name system (DNS) settings to redirect the user to malicious websites. Frequent redirects are a red flag, so you should scan your computer the moment you notice an uptick in these redirect patterns.
- You experience frequent pop-ups. A high number of pop-ups is another sign that your computer system might be infected with a Trojan. If you’re noticing more pop-ups than usual, there’s a strong possibility that a Trojan has installed a malicious adware program on your PC.
- Applications won’t start. On top of slowing your computer down, Trojans can interfere with applications and prevent them from running. If you have trouble starting your browser or apps like word processing and spreadsheet software, a Trojan virus might be embedded in your PC.
4 best ways to check for a Trojan on your PC
Now that you’re familiar with some of the common symptoms of a Trojan infection, let’s delve into how you can check for it on your PC.
Scan your PC using McAfee
The first step you should consider is scanning your PC using an antivirus program. These anti-malware programs are an integral component of cybersecurity and should be the first thing you turn to when you’re trying to detect and remove Trojans.
There are plenty of malware scan options to choose from, with antivirus software included in McAfee® Total Protection being one of the most comprehensive and functional security software you can use.
It offers real-time protection from all types of malicious software threats, including viruses, rootkits, spyware, adware, ransomware, backdoors, and, last but not least, Trojans. McAfee virus protection comes with several valuable features, such as on-demand and scheduled scanning of files and apps, an advanced firewall for home network security, and compatibility with Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS devices.
Search for Trojans while in computer “safe mode”
The next option you should explore is to search for Trojans in “safe mode.” This is an effective method of Trojan detection since safe mode only runs the basic programs needed for Microsoft Windows operation, making it easy to spot any unfamiliar or suspicious programs.
Here’s how you can search for Trojans in safe mode:
- Type “MSCONFIG.” in the search bar from the Start menu.
- Click on the “Boot” tab in the System Configuration box.
- Tick “Safe Mode” and click “Apply,” then “OK.”
- After the system restarts, re-open the configuration box.
- Click on “Startup.”
- Examine the list and see if there are any suspicious files.
- Disable any you deem suspicious.
Check processes in Windows Task Manager
A simple yet effective way to detect unfamiliar applications or suspicious activity in your system is to check the processes in Windows Task Manager. This will allow you to see if there are any unauthorized malicious programs running in the background.
To check a list of all the active processes that are currently running on your PC, press Ctrl+Alt+Del and click on the “Processes” tab. Check the list of active applications and disable the process of apps without verified publishers or ones you don’t remember downloading and installing.
Scan your PC using Windows Security
Another method you can try is to scan your PC using built-in Windows virus and threat protection tools. Microsoft Defender (called Windows Defender Security Center in older versions of Windows 10) can perform virus scans and detect various types of malware.
A dedicated antivirus software like McAfee virus protection can also detect and remove malware. Our program comes with a full range of features that are specifically designed to recognize and remove all forms of threats from your system.
Perform a comprehensive scan using McAfee
Computer security shouldn’t be something you lose sleep over. As long as you’re using a complete virus protection tool like McAfee antivirus software, you can enjoy a stress-free browsing experience.
McAfee virus protection software is especially effective when it comes to scanning for Trojans and other types of malware and removing them before they can cause any damage to your computer system. With real-time, on-demand, and scheduled scanning of files and applications at your disposal, we’ll help you detect any emerging threat in a timely manner.
See how McAfee Total Protection can make your digital life that much more rewarding and check out our Personal Data Cleanup service, which regularly scans some of the riskiest data broker sites to help remove your personal information from the net and protect your identity from theft.
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