Yet Another Computer Trojan – How to Stay Safe

I just wanted to write to warn you about an online Trojan that is going around right now, and offer you some online safety and privacy advice that can help keep you safe. Trojans are dangerous programs that can affect both Windows PCs as well as Apple’s Macs, and knowledge is the best tool to protect yourself.

The key thing to remember about Trojans is that they cannot get into your computer without YOU. It’s just like the original Trojan Horse from the old stories – the Greek soldiers couldn’t get into Troy until the citizens of Troy brought them in, past the defenses, hidden inside the wooden horse.  

And just like the horse, modern Trojans look like a “gift”, but hide something dangerous inside. So if you know how to recognize them, then you’re safe.   Let me tell you a little more so you know how the Trojan I’m talking about tries to trick you.

These things happen all the time, but this latest one is called “Trojan.Yontoo.1” and it affects both Windows PCs as well as Apple Macs — and for those who might wonder desktop and laptop computers fundamentally work the same way, so both can be infected equally.

As is often (but not always) the case, this Trojan gets into your computer from a website that either was put up for the purpose of getting you to install the Trojan, or where the website has been “broken into” and changed to try to infect computers.

The way this Trojan uses to lure you in mainly seems to be the offer of a browser plugin that claims to let you watch movie trailers, but actually watches everything you do online and when it sees an opportunity, it changes webpages you’re visiting by replacing normal ads with ads that make the criminals money.

Browser plugins are perfectly common and usually helpful pieces of software that add new features to web pages and to improve your web browsing experience in some way. Unfortunately just like any tool can be put to good or bad use, the wrong browser plugins can be dangerous.

You should remember that movie trailers (or any video) often can play without a plugin at all, or if they do need a plugin it will be Adobe Flash Player.  

So if you see a website that tries to get you to install a special plugin or player to watch the videos on the site and it is not Adobe Flash Player, get out of there.

Of course, what if a criminal just lies and says their dangerous fake video player plugin is Flash Player?  

While this Trojan scam does not seem to do that, it is very possible others could.  One way to figure out if you’re actually installing a legitimate copy of Flash Player is by paying attention to your address bar.

The address bar (or location bar) is of course the bar at the top of every web browser window which shows the address of the site and page you are currently viewing.  For example if you are reading this on my site, you can look at the top of the window and you should see as that is the location of my blog.

Remember, you only get Adobe Flash Player from one place:

If a website tries to have you install a plugin to watch videos you should be suspicious and read carefully. If it’s telling you to install Flash Player it is probably legitimate — but only if it sends you away from that site to Adobe’s website!

If it tries to install from anywhere else, don’t install it.  

I hope that makes sense.  

Remember that every single Trojan relies on your lack of knowledge to take advantage of you!  

Literally the only way to stay safe is to better understand your computer and how to use it properly.  Most people lack basic skills and knowledge that put them at risk.