How to spot a Trojan horse virus — and how to remove the virus if your website is infected

Avoid common malware

When it comes to online security threats, a Trojan horse virus is one of the most common type of malware files that affects websites. It’s not just big brands and popular websites that are getting targeted — small business owners with a website are also at risk of getting infected with a Trojan horse virus.

In today’s article, we’ll discuss what a Trojan horse virus is, share tips on how to detect and remove it, as well as which industries are most at risk of a cyberattack along with some real-world examples.

What is a Trojan horse virus?

A Trojan horse virus is a type of malware that was designed by hackers to look like a legitimate file. The name of this virus comes from Greek mythology because the virus acts just like the Greek troops that hid inside a wooden horse to invade Troy.

A Trojan horse virus attaches itself to files downloaded from the internet and once the victim downloads and opens or executes the file, the virus hides in the background.

The hackers can then use the virus to gain access to users’ information without their knowledge. It also creates a backdoor for hackers that allows them to gain access to the users’ system and act as a ransomware, demanding that you pay a certain amount of money to regain access.

A Trojan horse virus can delete and modify data as well as block and copy the data.

 

It can also cause interruptions in system or network performance. Trojan horse viruses do not spread like normal viruses, but rather lay in wait and exploit the data as well as download other types of malicious files onto the infected system, including websites.

A Trojan horse virus can infect your website through files on your site as well as through the server your website is hosted on.

Related: Protect your library, nonprofit or municipal agency from the ransomware virus

How to detect and remove a Trojan horse virus

A Trojan horse virus can result in the system displaying a DLL error, lost files, removal of firewalls and systems crashing — or you might not even notices something is amiss. Once you notice the Trojan horse attack, knowing how to remove a virus is crucial.

While you can attempt to remove the virus manually, keep in mind that this task is not only time-consuming but it also requires a degree of technical expertise that most small business owners don’t have.

As such, it’s prudent to use a dedicated tool that will clean the malware from your site. A tool like Express Malware Removal from GoDaddy can help you remove the malicious files from your site. The tool will scan your site and manually remove any threats and repair your site as many times as needed until it’s 100-percent clean and safe.

Once your site is malware free, use GoDaddy Website Security to prevent any future attacks. GoDaddy Website Security will perform advanced, regular security scanning of your site as well as monitor your brand reputation and help you remove your website from being blacklisted in Google and other search engines.

Trojan Horse Virus Security
Photo: GoDaddy Website Security

You’ll also want to make sure you implement regular backups for your site. They are a great security precaution as with a backup, you can easily restore your website in the event the worst happens.

Which industries are popular hacker targets and why

When it comes to websites, certain website niches are more susceptible to attacks than others.

Websites that belong in the legal, financial, government and education industries are more attractive than others.

Another industry that is highly attractive to hackers, especially in the recent years, is the healthcare industry. According to IBM, 2015 was the year of healthcare breach, while another report shows that a single Medicare record can fetch up to $500 on the dark web. Considering your Medicare or Medicaid report reveals not only your Social Security number but also your jobs, address, your spouse and children information, it’s easy to see why the healthcare industry is so interesting to hackers.

Similarly, financial institutions can reveal your credit card numbers and your financial information so they continue to be a common target. Government, education and law websites are also targets as they have valuable and sensitive information often covering a large user base.

No matter what industry a website belongs to, it’s safe to say that the consequences of a security breach can be quite serious for their users, clients and customers.

 

Once the data is stolen, it can be used in several ways:

  • Sold on the dark web where other cyber criminals can misuse it.
  • Your customers’ identity can be stolen, which hurts your business’s reputation and your credit score.
  • Yours and your customers’ business, website, personal computer and other devices can become the target of the next hacking attempt.
  • Your customers’ home can become the target of a robbery.
  • Your customers’ financial information can be used to make large purchases online without your
  • knowledge, which results in large amounts of debt you have to pay off.
    … and more.

Related: 5 best practices for customer data management

3 real-world examples of hacked websites

Below, you’ll find three examples of websites that were affected by malware.

Trojan Horse Virus Malware
Photo credit: GoDaddy

1. Simplii Financial and Bank of Montreal (BMO) of Canada

In May 2018, two major Canadian banks had to deal with a security breach. The sensitive and confidential information of roughly 90,000 customers were possibly affected by this attack and perpetrators demanded a $1 million ransom. BMO issued a statement after the incident claiming they didn’t pay the ransom but that they are doing everything they can to help and protect their customers, including offer support and credit monitoring services.

2. BMW and Rolls Royce

In 2017, a security flaw was discovered in BMW and Rolls Royce cars with the ConnectedDrive software. ConnectedDrive allows you to open the car door using your smartphone. When ConnectedDrive vulnerability was paired with an earlier BMW car theft hack, stealing a car becomes a piece of cake.

Both BMW and Rolls Royce released a security patch for the software to all the cars that were affected by the hack.

3. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center was a victim of a ransomware in 2016 and the attackers demanded $17,000 as ransom. Their network was down for a week before the hospital finally decided to pay the ransom, as they thought this was the “quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key.”

Related: 5 industries that can’t ignore advanced web security

Remove malware and protect your site from online threats

Protecting your site and removing malware the minute you become aware of the security breach is crucial in keeping your site safe from online threats. Use the tips in this article to protect your site and learn to identify common threats such as Trojan horse viruses.