What is a Trojan?
Trojans have been wreaking havoc for about 3,200 years. The first trojan horse appeared at the gates of Troy in the year 1180 BCE (give or take a couple of decades). It was an ingenious tool of deception employed by the Greeks who after a 10-year battle, left the horse as a gift as they retreated. Unbeknownst to the Trojans, however, 40 Achaeans hid inside the horse. As night fell, the Achaeans attacked the Trojans who had accepted the gift.
Modern trojans behave in a similar manner. At face value, they seem like legitimate software with malware hiding deep inside. Once the software is executed, or the malicious file is opened, the malware is let loose, and just as the original trojan horse led to the fall of Troy, its modern variant can very well lead to the fall of your website or server.
How does a Trojan work?
Trojans are a malware delivery method with a payload that can include different types of malware. Once executed any type of malware can burrow its way into the Operating System with backdoors and ransomware being two of the most common malware delivered through trojans.
As a delivery system, they are quite effective and account for 80% of all malware detected in a survey carried out by BitDefender in the first half of 2019.
Trojans employ different methods to get you to click the file in which they hide including email attachments and adverts. Once clicked, the code executes and the malware hiding inside makes its way to the Operating System. The payload will vary depending on the malware hiding inside.
Why are Trojans dangerous?
Trojans can be very dangerous. The malware hiding inside can be extremely damaging, or can even allow the attacker complete access to the victim’s website or computer. Since there is no standard trojan payload, it can be difficult to assess the type of damage a trojan might do to your system so it’s always best to protect your system at all times from all types of trojans.
How Trojans target WordPress websites
Trojans can target WordPress websites and the server on which they run. Just like trojans elsewhere, they will only execute once the file they’re hiding in is executed with the actual payload depending on the malware hiding inside.
In the case of WordPress, trojans can be potentially installed through plugins or themes, typically nulled ones. These often open a backdoor or inject code that triggers other malware, which can then be used to launch further malicious attacks.
How to protect your website from Trojans
To effectively protect yourself and your website from trojans, make sure that you do not open any files that you do not absolutely trust. You should also avoid clicking on any links that you’re not 100% sure of their legitimacy, and avoid using nulled plugins and themes.
Always check plugins and themes before installing them – ensuring they come from a reputable source and have not been tampered with. Equally important is to check all the software you install on your PC or server and remain vigilant at all times.
Having a good anti-malware solution as well as a comprehensive WordPress security policy will act as your second line of defense – something definitely worth having should a trojan slip through.