Viruses Get Sneakier

Hackers and other Internet Bad Guys are continually coming up with new ways to compromise their target’s accounts and access personal information. One of the more nefarious approaches is what is known as a “Trojan Horse,” or simply a “Trojan.”

Much like the ancient story, today’s Trojan Horse sneaks through your defenses by pretending to be something it is not. An Internet Trojan tricks a computer user into running a program that steals information, compromises their security, or worse.

We saw this happen last Christmas, with a rash of computer users receiving email messages purporting to be from the US Post Office, claiming they had missed delivery on a parcel and that the recipient needed to “click here” to set up redelivery. As you might guess, clicking on the link caused a Trojan to be installed.

Recently we have been seeing a variation on this theme involving FedEx instead of the Post Office. The messages can claim there is a package waiting to be picked up, or that the recipient has tickets for a concert or plane trip waiting for them. Security programs catch a lot of these messages, but very craftily written Trojans can slip through your defenses. If you receive any email asking you to open an embedded message or file, be on the lookout. It may well be waiting to deliver a nasty payload.

When in doubt, the best action is usually to delete the message from your email system and contact the delivery company directly to confirm whether or not the delivery exists.

Jeff Dettloff is President and Chief Problem Solver at Providence, a Lansing IT Consulting firm.

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