The steps for removing Trojan malware are not complicated, but they can be time-consuming and tedious. Ultimately, the main risk is that the trojan you don’t eradicate the trojan. If the trojan removal is partial, you may end up with devices that behave erratically.
Knowing how trojans work and how they are different from viruses can help you learn what needs removal. Remember that Trojans are aware of the possibility of attempted removal and will make things as challenging as possible for you.
Because Trojans often try to shape the behavior of your device, they can be somewhat confusing. If your device behaves strangely, such as directing you to random websites, it may indicate you have a Trojan infection.
Thankfully, there are several ways you can remove Trojan Malware;
1. Internet Security Applications
The best and most highly recommended way of removing Trojan malware is by using an Internet Security app. These applications are designed from the beginning to safeguard your devices. Be aware that there is a difference between Antivirus apps and Internet Security apps.
If you only want to safeguard against (or clean) virus or Trojan infection, then an antivirus app will be OK. Most of the time, installing the app on your device is all you must do. The service works in the background to detect and block infections.
Internet Security apps cover a broader scope of duties (although what these exactly are may depend on your chosen brand). Aside from local virus and trojan infections, they protect your web browsing activities and WiFi connection or might even include secure cloud backup services. Some even have a built-in Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Once installed on your device, the app will generally provide best practice guidelines for using them. For example, some may force a scan of all new storage devices attached to your primary device. Highly recommended brands include Norton, ESET, and F-Secure.
Ensure your app is always enabled and perform periodic system scans, and you won’t be troubled by viruses or Trojan malware.
2. Online Malware Tool to Remove Trojan Malware
If you already have an infected device, it may prevent you from installing antivirus or Internet Security apps. We refer to this as the “it’s too late” syndrome, but all is not lost. You can still rely on some online malware scanners.
Online malware scanners are usually from Internet security companies that understand the “it’s too late” syndrome and still want to help. One example is the F-Secure free online scanner and virus removal service – and yes, it works for Trojan malware too.
Understanding that these tools don’t prevent Trojan malware infections is essential. They only attempt to detect and remove infections after the fact. By then, it may be too late to rescue your important files, such as the photo of you with that 22lb bass you caught in the summer of ‘69.
The second thing to note is that online malware scanners are often less effective than installed Internet Security apps. They generally cannot access some areas of your device, and the “cleansing,” so to speak, may not be complete.
3. Free Apps Like Microsoft Defender
Free antivirus options are available if you don’t want to pay for an Internet Security app but still want some security. While there are many options available like Avast, AVG, and such, I recommend considering an app closer to home first – Windows Defender.
Microsoft Defender is a free antivirus program available on the Microsoft Store. If you use Windows 10 or 11, it comes as a pre-installed standard security application. Depending on your situation, you may need to download and install it on your devices.
After installing Microsoft Defender, open the program by clicking its icon in the taskbar search box. The application offers several scanning options; Quick, Full, Custom, and Offline. Select the “Offline” scan option to deal with a Trojan infection.
The Offline Scan in Microsoft Defender handles persistent threats like Trojan Malware. Since Trojans can run as system processes, the Offline Scan reboots your device and runs a scan before other processes load. That makes the removal of Trojans more reliable.
4. Removing Trojan Malware with a System Restore
System restore is a tool included in Windows that turns back time. Well, not really, but it allows you to move your entire system back to a previous state. The catch with System Restore is that the effectiveness depends on how you’ve set things up on your device.
Since Windows 10, Microsoft ships the Operating System without enabling System Restore by default. If you don’t currently have a Trojan malware infection, you must enable System Restore now.
System Restore works by making periodic backups of system files during significant events. For example, when installing a new application. If anything goes wrong during that process, Windows can “roll back” to the period before, and it will be as if nothing happened.
Important Note: System Restore isn’t a highly reliable way of removing Trojan Malware. It is a Hail Mary pass (i.e., an act of desperation) for those with no other defenses.
What is Trojan Malware
Trojan Malware masquerades as legitimate applications while sneakily performing unorthodox operations. Although we categorize viruses and trojans as malware, they behave differently. A virus attaches itself to an application and corrupts it. It then repeats the same thing with as many other applications as possible.
Viruses are seen as more destructive than trojans since the effect is quick and can cause irreparable damage to your computer. Most viruses multiply quickly and destroy as much information as possible before detection.
Trojans got their name due to the deceitful nature of this type of malware. It originated from a large wooden horse (the Trojan Horse) left outside Troy gates by Greek soldiers during the Trojan War. Thinking it was a good trophy, the Trojans brought the horse inside their city. When night fell, Greek soldiers emerged from inside the horse and opened the gates for their comrades to enter and destroy Troy.
Signs You May Have a Trojan Infection
The problem with trojans is that their operations are often more stealthy. A Trojan can lie dormant on your device until specific “trigger” conditions occur. For example, a hacker could use Trojan malware to trigger a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack using yours and thousands of other infected devices simultaneously.
Signs that you may have a Trojan malware infection include:
- Sudden excessive Internet pop-ups.
- Misbehaving applications (not working or not working as intended).
- Overall system sluggishness.
- Constant excessively high resource usage.
- Desktop pop-ups.
How You Might Get Infected by Trojan Malware
The primary ways you can get infected with Trojan malware are by downloading an infected file from the Internet or opening an infected email attachment. Once this happens, the Trojan will install itself on your device and stay hidden until it’s triggered.
Here are some scenarios that may lead to Trojan infections;
Example 1: Fake Download Websites
You want to download an application but have difficulty finding it on the company’s website. Because of that, you resort to Google search and find that the app is available on a random website. Once you download and install that app, a Trojan might come along with it.
Example 2: Link Redirects
You click on an email link that takes you to a malicious website — for example, one selling counterfeit goods — instead of taking you to where you intended to go. The site may look legitimate and even have built-in security features to fool you into thinking it’s safe (for example, HTTPS). Downloading anything from that site may lead to a Trojan infection.
Protecting Yourself Against Trojans and Other Malware
If left unchecked, Trojan malware can cause damage to your device and even affect others on the same network. You can protect yourself from trojans by:
Installing Antivirus Apps
Install anti-virus software on all devices connected to the Internet, including mobile phones and tablets. This proactive defense will help protect you against the most known virus threats and malware.
Installing a Software Firewall
Install firewall software on all devices that connect to the Internet. A firewall can block unauthorized access to your system by restricting incoming traffic allowed through the network connection (e.g., network ports). Firewalls may also detect suspicious activity and alert you when they do so.
Keeping Apps Updated
Keep your software updated with the latest security patches and fixes as soon as they become available from official vendors such as Microsoft, Apple, or Google.
Avoiding Suspicious Links
Do not open email attachments unless you know who sent them, or don’t open them at all when in doubt! If a message contains an attachment, hover over it with your cursor before opening it; if there is no text description associated with the message, then consider it suspicious!
Trojans, like all malware, are designed to trick users into downloading and installing them. They can be tough to detect, so it’s essential to know their characteristics and how they work. The best way to avoid Trojan infections is to take a proactive stance toward Internet security.