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Remember the Trojan Horse

Posted by TestOut Staff on

The discovery of the long-lost but never-forgotten city of Troy in present-day Turkey was one of the landmark archaeological finds of the 19th century, and, indeed, in the history of archaeology. Heinrich Schliemann unearthed Troy while excavating a 100-foot-high mound on the Aegean coast of Turkey, though the adventurous German was more of a colorful character and archaeological hobbyist than a researcher or scientist. Think Indiana Jones without a professorship or a teaching position.

Trojan horse

There are nine buried cities at the site that Schliemann (with a friendly assist from fellow amateur Frank Calvert) identified. Modern archaeologists believe that Troy VI — the sixth city built on the site following the abandonment and disappearance of the previous five — is most likely the Troy associated with the legend popularized by Homer. So there is a historical Troy, and there are indications that it was the site of a war. One that the Greeks ended with a trick involving a giant wooden horse?

We bring this up today because April 24 is the "traditional" date vaguely given for the sack of Troy precipitated by the trick with the horse. And because, among its other associations, "Trojan horse" has become the accepted parlance to describe a certain variety of low-level computer hack. According to legend, the Greeks pretended to sail away and abandon their siege of Troy, leaving behind a giant wooden horse as an apparent parting gift and token of respect for their stalwart adversaries.

Thinking themselves the victors of a 10-year conflict, the Trojans hauled the horse into their walled city to celebrate. Later, as the people slept, Greek soldiers climbed out of the horse and threw open the gates of the city to their eager comrades. Today, "Trojan horse" (or sometimes just "Trojan") is a label that describes any malware that hides its true, sinister purpose beneath a benign facade. Trojans are often deployed as e-mail attachments, online advertisements or forms, and so forth.

So consider this your cybersecurity hygiene reminder for the day. It's better to be suspicious — as the ancient inhabitants of Troy were not — than to be victimized. If you think an e-mail attachment, or an embedded link, or an online form is unusual or unexpected, then delete it or avoid it. If you'd like to learn more about cybersecurity, then consider taking TestOut's Security Pro training course. Knowledge is the key to avoiding the tricks of duplicitous Greek warriors and hackers alike.


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