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Trojans

For those of you not up on your Homer, Troy is the sea city where Helen lived. She was swept away from her husband by a real ladies man; unfortunately her husband was not going to let her get away with it, and a great battle ensued. Yet despite his best of efforts, Helen's cuckolded hubby could not break through the walls of the impregnable city of Troy.

Which is when he or one of his cohorts came up with a brilliant idea. (This idea is not really all that smart, and the 'Trojans' should have seen through it, but who cares.)

Up to this point, Helen's hubby's warships had been there on the shore all along as the fighting continued. But over a single night they tore their ships apart and built a humungoid 'horse' out of the timber, big enough for the lot of them to hide in.

When the Trojans woke in the morning, after their leisurely breakfast and a turn at the Times Crossword, they looked out their windows and noticed Helen's hubby was gone. Way cool, they said. Then they noticed the horse. WTF is that, they asked. Somebody suggested it might be a going away present from the retreating warriors. Ok, that's ok too, they all said, and decided to take this wooden horse inside their barricaded city.

Which was of course the beginning of the end. That night, as Trojans everywhere again slept the sleep of peace, Helen's hubby and his warriors jumped out of the horse and began an immense slaughter.

It all makes for good reading (especially if you can read ancient Greek), and it's only a story, but the concept of the 'trojan' has ever since stuck. Especially in the world of computers.

The world of UNIX was one of the first places to use the term. In a nutshell, a classic UNIX trojan was a program that looked just like the UNIX logon program, but which stored your account ID and password as it logged you on. Since then the term 'trojan' has come to apply to any sneaky program that makes its way onto your computer without you knowing about it. The ILOVEYOU worm used the Barok trojan for example.

Barok is bad enough, but there are far worse.

Next: Cult Of The Dead Cow

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