Basic online scenario—You log onto your computer and notice that something’s just not right, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Something just seems…a bit off. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, or even thinking you are, there’s a real possibility you could have a Trojan virus on your computer.

Trojan viruses can not only steal your most personal information, they also put you at risk for identity theft and other serious cybercrimes. In this post, we’ll examine what Trojan viruses are, and where they come from. We’ll also cover how you can protect yourself and get rid of viruses so you can stay safe and maintain peace of mind online.

What Trojan Viruses Do

Trojan viruses are a type of malware that invade your computer disguised as real, operational programs. Once a trojan is inside your system, it can perform destructive actions before you even know it’s there. Once inside, some trojans sit idly on your computer and wait for further instructions from its host hacker, but others begin their malicious activity right from the start.

Some trojans download additional malware onto your computer and then bypass your security settings while others try to actively disable your antivirus software. Some Trojans hijack your computer and make it part of a criminal DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) network.

How to Remove a Trojan Virus

Before you discover all the places a Trojan can invade your computer, let’s first learn how to get rid of them. You can remove some Trojans by disabling startup items on your computer which don’t come from trusted sources. For the best results, first reboot your device into safe mode so that the virus can’t stop you from removing it.

Please carefully ensure you know which specific programs you’re removing because you could slow, disable or cripple your system if you remove basic programs your computer needs to function. Installing and using a trusted antivirus solution is also one of the top ways to get rid of trojans. An effective antivirus program searches for valid trust and app behavior, as well as trojan signatures in files in order to detect, isolate and then promptly remove them. In addition to spotting known trojans, the McAfee antivirus program can identify new trojans by detecting suspicious activity inside any and all of your applications.

Remove Trojans by taking the following steps:

Removing Trojans is a great way to safeguard your computer and privacy, but you must also take steps to avoid them in the future:

  • Setup cloud accounts using email addresses that offers account recovery support. Accounts from ISP’s or paid services.
  • In the case of Apple, you can request assistance to help recover an account (Gmail and/or yahoo accounts can’t be recovered as they can’t confirm ownership)
  • Use VPNs on Public Wi-Fi
  • Call the Sender Before Opening Email Attachments
  • Use an Antivirus Solution With Real-Time Protection

Where Trojan Viruses Come From

This section takes a closer look at the places you are the most vulnerable to a Trojan virus attack. While all trojans look like normal programs, they need a way to get your attention before you unknowingly install them on your system. Trojan viruses are different from other types of malware because they trick you into installing them yourself. You will think that the Trojan is a game or music file, and the file you download will likely work like normal so that you don’t know it’s a Trojan. But it will also install the harmful virus on your computer in the background. Be careful when you get files from the following sources. Many users install trojans from file-sharing websites and fake email attachments. You can also get attacked from spoofed chat messages, infected websites, hacked networks and more.

File-Sharing Sites

Almost everyone who is at least a little tech savvy occasionally uses file-sharing websites. File-sharing websites include torrent websites and other sites that allow users to share their files, and this concept is appealing for a variety of reasons. First, it allows people to get premium software without paying the retail price. The problem though, is that file-sharing sites are also extremely attractive to hackers who want to find an easy way inside your system.

For example, a hacker uploads a cracked copy of a popular software to a torrent website for free download, then waits for potential victims to instantly download it… but the cracked software has a hidden trojan virus that allows the hacker to control your computer.

Trojan viruses can also come in the popular forms of music files, games and numerous other applications.

Email Attachments

Fake email attachments are another common way people find themselves infected with trojan viruses. For example, a hacker sends you an email with an attachment, hoping you’ll instantly click on it, so that you become infected instantly upon opening it. Many hackers send generic emails to as many people as possible. Others go after specific people or businesses which they’ve targeted.

In targeted cases, a hacker sends a fake email that looks as if it came from someone you know. The email could contain a Word document or something you consider “safe”, but the virus infects your computer the second you open the attachment. The easiest way to protect yourself from this targeted attack is by calling the sender—before opening the attachment—to make sure they’re the one who sent this specific attachment.

Spoofed Messages

A countless number of popular programs and useful applications allow you to chat with others from your desktop. Bur regardless of if you use such software for business or personal connections, you are at risk of trojan infection unless you know how to protect yourself.

Hackers “spoof” a message so that it looks like it came from someone you trust. In addition to spoofing, hackers also create similar usernames and hope you don’t notice, or aren’t paying attention to, the slight differences. Like with fake emails, the hacker is sending you a trojan-infected file or application.

Infected Websites

Many hackers target websites instead of individual users. They find weaknesses in unsecured websites which allow them to upload files or, in some cases, even take over the entire website. When this type of site hijacking happens, the hacker can then use the website to redirect you to other sites.

The hacker can compromise the entire website and redirect your downloads to a malicious server that contains the trojan. Using only trusted, well-known websites is one way to reduce your odds of falling into that trap, but a good antivirus program can also help detect infected and hacked sites.

Hacked Wi-Fi Networks

Hacked Wi-Fi networks are also a common source of trojans and other malware. A hacker can create a fake “hotspot” network that looks exactly like the one you’re trying to connect to. When you connect to this fake network by mistake, however, the hacker can then redirect you to fake websites that look so real that even experts have trouble spotting the difference. These fake websites contain browser exploits that redirect any file you try downloading.

Final Thoughts

Trojans can infect your computer and cause enormous problems before you even know what happened. Once a trojan gets onto your system, it can monitor your keyboard, install additional malware and cause a variety of other problems you simply don’t want to face. Luckily, most Trojans are generic and easy to handle if you follow this proven process.

Unverified startup items and suspicious programs can act as gateways for trojans to install harmful code in your computer and other devices. If you notice any new programs running on your system that you did not install, it could be a trojan. Try removing the program and restarting your computer to see if your computer’s performance improves.

Stay Protected

The cyberthreat landscape is always changing and evolving. Hackers are always looking for new ways to break into computers and servers, so you must stay updated on the latest threats, and using a proven antivirus solution is always a smart bet. These steps will not only safeguard your devices, they’ll also give you peace of mind while online.