You Know What Phishing Is, But What About Pharming?

Couple of words to remember about phising: Phishing attacks use both social engineering and technical subterfuge to steal consumers’ personal identity data and financial account credentials. Social-engineering schemes use ‘spoofed’ e-mails to lead consumers to counterfeit websites designed to trick recipients into divulging financial data such as credit card numbers, account usernames, passwords and social security numbers. Hijacking brand names of banks, e-retailers and credit card companies, phishers often convince recipients to respond. Technical subterfuge schemes plant crimeware onto PCs to steal credentials directly, often using Trojan keylogger spyware. Pharming crimeware misdirects users to fraudulent sites or proxy servers, typically through DNS hijacking or poisoning.

Pharming is an attack in which a user can be fooled into entering sensitive data such as a password or credit card number into a malicious web site that impersonates a legitimate web site. It is different than phishing in that the attacker does not have to rely on having the user click a link in an email to deceive the user– even if the user correctly enters a URL (web address) into a browser’s address bar, the attacker can still redirect the user to a malicious web site.

The threat due to pharming is not new, and has been known to security experts under the more technical term DNS cache poisoning. However, due to the increasing use of the Internet to conduct financial transactions, criminals are now using DNS cache poisoning for profit. The name pharming was coined after a significant DNS cache poisoning attack in March 2005 due to its loose similarity to phishing attacks that were common at the time.

Interesting article about pharming can be found here. Also visit Symantec’s web site where you can find some details and guidelines how to be more secure from phishing and pharming attacks (here). Web site dedicated to pharming is here and web page dedicated to antiphising is here.

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