Cybercrime is on the rise, and businesses of all sizes are at risk. One particularly nefarious type of attack that has become increasingly popular in recent years is pharming. It’s similar to phishing, but with a dangerous twist: instead of attempting to convince you to visit a malicious website and give up personal information, cybercriminals attempt to redirect your web traffic so it goes directly to the malicious site. This makes it nearly impossible for users to identify the attack until after they’ve been compromised. Here, we’ll discuss what pharming is, how it works, types of attacks, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you find you’ve been compromised.
What Is Pharming, and How Does it Work?
Pharming is an online security threat that involves deceiving web users into visiting a malicious site through redirects or domain hijacking, rather than phishing attempts at collecting information through emails.
Pharming works by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in DNS servers so malicious websites appear legitimate and trustworthy, when in fact, they can use your information for malicious intent such as identity theft. Unlike phishing, pharming doesn’t explicitly rely on fooling people into providing their data. Instead, attackers involve sophisticated techniques to reroute visitors to malicious sites of their choice.
Types of Pharming Attacks
There are several types of pharming attacks, including:
- DNS cache poisoning – This involves tricking a DNS server into storing a malicious website address instead of the intended website address.
- Domain hijacking – Occurs when an attacker takes control of a domain name and redirects it to their own phishing site. This can be done by manipulating the domain’s registration records or exploiting vulnerabilities in domain registrars.
- Malicious code injection – This occurs when attackers inject malicious code into webpages that automatically redirect visitors to phishing sites.
How to Protect Yourself from Pharming
The best way to protect yourself against pharming is by taking the same steps you would take to protect yourself against phishing:
- Keep your devices, software, and network secure with the latest updates
- Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication when accessing sensitive accounts or websites
- Never share personal or financial information over email or text message
- Be wary of clicking on links in emails from unknown sources
- Never enter confidential data into a website unless you are certain of its authenticity
What to Do if You Have Been Compromised by Pharming
If you suspect that you have been compromised by a phishing attack, take the following steps immediately:
- Change any accounts or passwords you think may have been affected
- Monitor your financial statements and credit reports for unusual activity
- Contact your bank or other financial institution to report any suspicious activity on your account
- Contact the relevant organizations if any of your personal information has been compromised
- File a report with your local law enforcement and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center
By familiarizing yourself with pharming and taking proactive steps to protect yourself from it, you can help ensure that your data remains secure. If you think you’ve been the victim of a pharming attack, don’t hesitate to take action right away. With proper precautions and vigilance, you can stay safe online.