Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Coming In Through The Backdoor

Something about the mere mention of a Trojan virus is chill inducing. Of course, the idea of malicious code surreptitiously stealing onto the network and wreaking havoc with precious data should cause alarm. And unfortunately it looks like rather than easing, the threat from Backdoor Trojans is actually becoming an increasingly virulent one in Windows environments.This week TechWeb's Gregg Keizer examines Backdoor Trojans and bots, a subset of Trojan viruses, what Microsoft's anti-malware team calls the greatest threats to Windows environments. Microsoft users are, of course, not without a defense against this particularly sneaky malicious code. Microsoft introduced its Microsoft Software Removal Tool (MSRT) in January 2005 which finds and deletes Trojans including bots from Windows machines.

The tool, which is automatically downloaded onto computers with the Windows Update turned on, is running on 270 million unique systems. A nice benefit of the tool is Microsoft is able to assess which types of threats are the greatest in number. Unfortunately, the tool runs mostly on XP so many older machines are missing in this accounting.

Microsoft's concerns about the prevalance of the Trojan threat jibe with the concerns of a security researcher about the severity of bots in particular. In a conversation with the researcher a few months ago, he told me bots have the power to do incredible damage to corporate systems, and already have. Designed to steal data from end user machines without their knowledge, bots may be responsible for more damage than we are know.