Trojan horse definition

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Secure Web gateways, from evaluation to sealed deal
Contributor(s): Santichai Dumpprasertkul

In computers, a Trojan horse is a program in which malicious or harmful code is contained inside apparently harmless programming or data in such a way that it can get control and do its chosen form of damage, such as ruining the file allocation table on your hard disk. In one celebrated case, a Trojan horse was a program that was supposed to find and destroy computer viruses. A Trojan horse may be widely redistributed as part of a computer virus.

The term comes from Greek mythology about the Trojan War, as told in the Aeneid by Virgil and mentioned in the Odyssey by Homer. According to legend, the Greeks presented the citizens of Troy with a large wooden horse in which they had secretly hidden their warriors. During the night, the warriors emerged from the wooden horse and overran the city.

This was first published in July 2006

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