Chapter 9

The Nature of Trojan Horses

Up until this point the book has focused largely on self-replicating programs. The exception to this is the deniable password-snatching attack described in Section 4.2 that is carried out by a Trojan horse program. The remainder of the book focuses exclusively on Trojan horse programs.

The term Trojan horse is a fitting one for describing malicious software and is based on a Greek myth. According to legend, the Greeks were unable to penetrate the city of Troy using siege machines and other weapons of war. So, they devised a plan. They built a huge wooden horse with a hollow belly and filled it with Greek warriors that were poised for attack. The Greeks pushed the horse to the outskirts of Troy and then sailed away. The Trojans assumed that it was a peace offering and brought the horse inside the city to celebrate the presumed departure of the Achaeans. The citizens rejoiced and drank heavily throughout the evening and much of the night. The Greek warriors took the city by surprise under cover of dark.

Computer Trojan horses are much the same. They are invisible to the naked eye. They appear within otherwise attractive or harmless programs. They require some form of user or operating system intervention to activate, and they do something that the user does not expect. The purpose of this chapter is to convey a basic principle that underlies the ...

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