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Pharming

Definition

Pharming is a type of cyber attack that redirects a legitimate website’s traffic to a fake site in order to gather sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details. This tactic is typically employed without the user’s knowledge, making it a serious threat to online security. It’s a more sophisticated form of phishing as, unlike phishing emails, pharming doesn’t require the victim to click on any link to be redirected.

Phonetic

The phonetic transcription of the word “Pharming” is: /ˈfɑːrmɪŋ/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Pharming is a cybercrime involving the manipulation of website traffic. It attempts to redirect a website’s traffic to a deceptive or fraudulent site, typically to steal sensitive information such as credit card details or passwords.
  2. Unlike phishing, which depends on convincing the user to visit a fraudulent website, pharming can occur without user interaction, making it more dangerous. It’s primarily accomplished through DNS (Domain Name System) cache poisoning where the attacker corrupts the DNS server by replacing a legitimate IP address with the fraudulent one.
  3. The primary defense against pharming includes regularly updating and patching systems, improving network security infrastructure, using encrypted or secure networks, and employing high-quality antivirus and anti-malware software. Also, users should validate the integrity of websites (by checking the HTTPS and domain name) before entering any sensitive information.

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Importance

Pharming is an important term in technology because it signifies a severe cyber threat. It refers to a hacker’s method that redirects a website’s traffic to another phony website. Unlike phishing, where victims are tricked into clicking on malicious links to visit fake websites, pharming doesn’t require the victim’s assistance and the redirection happens without their knowledge. This can lead to significant data theft as users unknowingly enter their personal information or login credentials into the counterfeit site. It’s important to be aware of pharming as it compromises online security, posing serious risks to individual privacy, corporate security, and e-commerce activities. Therefore, understanding this concept is crucial for implementing effective protective measures against such sophisticated cyber attacks.

Explanation

Pharming is a cyber-attack strategy often used by cybercriminals to redirect a website’s traffic to another fake website. The primary purpose of pharming is to defraud online users, ultimately gaining access to their sensitive or personal information, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details. The assailants usually achieve this by exploiting vulnerabilities in DNS server software or through malware that alters the hosts file on the victim’s computer.Commonly, pharming is used for nefarious activities like identity theft, financial fraud, or the distribution of malware. The users, often oblivious of being redirected to an illegitimate website, voluntarily enter their information, thinking it’s a secure, trusted site. Moreover, these fake websites are remarkably well-designed, bearing a close resemblance to the original, therefore duping many. The sophistication of these attacks means security measures beyond simply checking the site’s address are often necessary to detect and prevent pharming.

Examples

1. DNS Cache Poisoning: This is one of the common applications of pharming where a hacker tampers with a DNS server and redirects a user’s traffic to a malicious website or server instead of the legitimate one. A real-world example of this occurred in 2014 when the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee reported that ISP customers were redirected to cloned banking websites through DNS cache poisoning, enabling hackers to collect login information.2. Internet of Things (IoT) Scams: As IoT devices become more prevalent, they are increasingly targeted for pharming attacks. For instance, in 2016, it was discovered that certain models of home routers were vulnerable to pharming attacks. Hackers were capable of altering the router settings, causing the users to unknowingly visit fraudulent websites.3. DDoS Attacks: A prominent incident occurred in 2016 when a major DNS provider, Dyn, was targeted by a sophisticated pharming attack. It was executed through a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack from a botnet consisting of a large number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. As a result, numerous popular websites like Twitter, The New York Times, and Netflix experienced significant outages.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

**Question 1**: What is Pharming in terms of technology?**Answer 1**: Pharming is a cyber-attack intended to redirect a website’s traffic to a fraudulent site. The attacker achieves this by altering a computer’s host files or exploiting a server’s domain name system.**Question 2**: How is Pharming different from Phishing?**Answer 2**: While both Pharming and Phishing are cyber-attacks aimed at stealing personal and financial information, their methods differ. Phishing typically involves tricking users into willingly providing their information, often through deceptive emails. Pharming, on the other hand, redirects users to fraudulent sites without their knowledge.**Question 3**: How can Pharming affect me?**Answer 3**: If you fall victim to a pharming attack, you may be redirected to a fake website where your personal and financial information can be stolen. This could potentially lead to identity theft and financial loss.**Question 4**: How can I protect myself against Pharming?**Answer 4**: To guard against pharming, regularly update and run antivirus software, be cautious of unfamiliar websites, and consider the use of a trusted Virtual Private Network (VPN). It’s also good practice to check if websites are secure – look for ‘https’ in the URL and a padlock icon.**Question 5**: What should I do if I suspect that I have been a victim of Pharming?**Answer 5**: If you suspect you’ve been a victim of a pharming attack, you should immediately change all of your passwords, contact your bank to inform them of any potential fraud, and report the issue to your local law enforcement or cyber crime reporting centre.**Question 6**: How can I identify Pharming websites?**Answer 6**: You may not always be able to identify a pharming site, as they often closely imitate legitimate ones. However, some clues could be spelling errors, unfamiliar domain names, or the absence of ‘https’ in the URL.

Related Tech Terms

  • DNS Cache Poisoning
  • Phishing
  • Spoofing
  • Malware
  • Cybersecurity

Sources for More Information

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