Pharming

Pharming

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Pharming is a cyber attack technique used by malicious actors to redirect website visitors to fraudulent websites without their knowledge or consent. It is a form of online identity theft that aims to deceive users into providing sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card details, or personal data. Pharming attacks manipulate the Domain Name System (DNS) or compromise users’ local settings to redirect them to malicious websites, posing a serious threat to online security.

How Pharming Works:

  1. DNS Cache Poisoning: In a DNS cache poisoning attack, the attacker manipulates the DNS cache of a Domain Name Server (DNS server). By injecting fraudulent DNS records into the cache, the attacker associates a legitimate domain name with the IP address of a malicious website. When users attempt to visit the legitimate website, they are unknowingly redirected to the fraudulent site.
  2. Hosts File Modification: The attacker may compromise the “hosts” file on the victim’s computer. The hosts file is a local database that maps domain names to specific IP addresses. By modifying this file, the attacker can redirect specific domain names to IP addresses associated with malicious websites.
  3. Router or DNS Server Compromise: In more sophisticated attacks, the attacker may compromise the victim’s router or DNS server settings. By gaining access to these network devices, the attacker can manipulate DNS resolution for all devices connected to the network, leading to widespread pharming.

Implications of Pharming:

Pharming attacks can have severe consequences for both individuals and organizations:

  1. Identity Theft: Cybercriminals can harvest sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial data, leading to identity theft and financial losses.
  2. Data Breaches: Pharming attacks may result in data breaches, as attackers gain unauthorized access to sensitive data.
  3. Reputation Damage: Organizations whose websites are impersonated in pharming attacks may suffer reputational damage due to customer mistrust and negative publicity.
  4. Financial Fraud: Attackers can use the stolen information to conduct fraudulent financial transactions, leading to financial loss for victims.

Preventing Pharming Attacks:

Mitigating the risk of pharming attacks involves several preventive measures:

  1. Secure DNS Infrastructure: Organizations should implement DNSSEC (DNS Security Extensions) to ensure the authenticity and integrity of DNS data, preventing cache poisoning attacks.
  2. HTTPS Encryption: Websites should use HTTPS encryption to protect user data during transit and ensure that users are connected to the legitimate site.
  3. Network Security: Individuals should secure their home or business networks by regularly updating router firmware, using strong passwords, and enabling security features.
  4. Antivirus and Antimalware: Users should employ reliable antivirus and antimalware software to detect and prevent pharming attacks.
  5. Monitoring and Detection: Organizations should monitor their network traffic for suspicious activities and employ intrusion detection systems to detect potential pharming attempts.

Conclusion:

Pharming is a deceptive cyber attack that manipulates DNS settings to redirect users to fraudulent websites. To protect against pharming attacks, individuals and organizations must be vigilant, employ robust cybersecurity measures, and stay informed about the latest threats and prevention techniques. A proactive approach to online security can help safeguard sensitive information and maintain trust in the digital ecosystem.

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