What is Pharming?

Pharming is a cyber attack that involves redirecting or manipulating the Domain Name System (DNS) to lead users to fraudulent websites, often for the purpose of stealing sensitive information. Unlike phishing, which relies on deceiving individuals to click on malicious links, pharming seeks to compromise the DNS infrastructure to redirect users to malicious websites without their knowledge.

Key characteristics of pharming include:

  1. DNS Spoofing or Poisoning: Pharming attacks manipulate the DNS, altering the resolution of domain names to IP addresses. Attackers may poison the DNS cache or compromise DNS servers to redirect users to malicious websites.
  2. Impersonation of Legitimate Sites: Pharming often involves creating fake websites that closely mimic the appearance of legitimate and trusted websites, such as online banking portals, e-commerce sites, or login pages for email services.
  3. Stealing Sensitive Information: The ultimate goal of pharming is to trick users into entering sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, or financial details, on fraudulent websites. This information is then collected by the attackers for malicious purposes.
  4. Persistent Attacks: Pharming attacks can be persistent, affecting multiple users over an extended period. Once the DNS records are manipulated, users may continue to be redirected to malicious sites until the issue is identified and resolved.

To protect against pharming attacks, individuals and organizations can take the following precautions:

  • Use Secure and Updated DNS Servers: Employ DNS servers that are secure and regularly updated to prevent cache poisoning and other DNS-related attacks.
  • Check Website Security: Ensure that websites are secured with HTTPS, which encrypts the communication between the user's browser and the website. Look for the padlock icon in the browser's address bar.
  • Implement DNS Security Measures: Employ DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) to add an additional layer of security to the DNS infrastructure, helping to prevent pharming attacks.
  • Regularly Monitor DNS Settings: Regularly monitor and review DNS settings to detect any unauthorized changes promptly.
  • Educate Users: Provide training and awareness programs to educate users about the risks of pharming and how to recognize secure websites.

By implementing these measures and staying informed about potential threats, individuals and organizations can reduce the risk of falling victim to pharming attacks and protect their sensitive information.