What is a backdoor?

A backdoor is an alternative access to a software or hardware system that bypasses normal access protection. A backdoor can be used to bypass hardware and software security mechanisms. Access can be done intentionally or covertly.

Backdoor means back door. In an IT environment, a backdoor is an alternative method of accessing programs or hardware systems that bypasses normal security mechanisms.

It may be intentionally installed by the programmer or installed secretly by malware. Trojans are often used to install secret access options.

IT system manufacturers use built-in backdoors to gain access to a device for maintenance or repair purposes.

For example, you can reset forgotten master passwords. Intentionally installed backdoors pose a security risk because existing security mechanisms can be bypassed by knowing the secret access. Backdoors are often used in conjunction with Trojan horses and computer viruses to gain unauthorized access to a computer.

The difference between a backdoor and a Trojan

The terms Trojan and backdoor are often used in the same context. However, the functions are clearly distinguishable. A Trojan is software that masquerades as a useful program, but actually performs other functions, and a backdoor provides alternative access to the system.

Trojans are used by hackers and cybercriminals to install a backdoor on a computer without the user's knowledge. A Trojan is a tool that helps an attacker gain unauthorized access. If a back door is installed on the computer, then a real Trojan horse is not needed to access the system. There are also mixed forms of Trojans and backdoors. In this case, the Trojan opens a backdoor only for the duration of its operation.

Backdoor Protection Measures

Depending on the type of Trojan, there are different ways to protect computers or software from a backdoor. If Trojan horses are used to install backdoors, regularly updating antivirus programs and responsible use of third-party software provide good protection.

In particular, unknown email attachments should be viewed with suspicion, as email is a popular means of distributing Trojan horses. The software on your computer and its network traffic also need to be scanned regularly. The firewall feature provides protection against backdoor access through network connections. All software on your computer should be updated regularly and patches installed promptly.

Programs based on open source software can be checked for backdoor mechanisms if you have the relevant knowledge. With such software, developers are unlikely to be able to build secret backdoors and access options into the code.

Backdoor examples

A well-known example of a backdoor was implemented in some BIOS systems. Access to them was possible using the password “lkwpeter”. Alternative access options can also be found in various network components such as routers. For example, some experts believe that various devices from network equipment manufacturers contain security loopholes.

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