What is Pharming in Cyber Security?

What is Pharming in Cyber Security?

A portmanteau of the words ‘phishing’ and ‘farming’, pharming refers to a form of phishing that can be harder to spot and can target a wider range of victims. In this post, we’ll explore what pharming is in cybersecurity services and some ways to tell if you or your business might have been hacked.

 

What Is a Pharming Attack?

In its most basic form, a pharming attack is what happens when a hacker redirects users of a legitimate website to their own (very similar) fake website. This website will encourage you to enter personal information, logins, passwords or financial information. Because you didn’t click on a dodgy email link, which is often how phishing attacks work, you might think that you’re safe to do so. Unfortunately, you’re not, and that information can then be used against you or sold on the dark web.

 

Types of Pharming Cyberattack

There are two main types of pharming cyberattacks:

  • Malware-based

A malware-based pharming cyberattack will involve a hacker installing a programme or software on your phone, tablet or computer, typically from an infected email or dubious link. The next time you go to a seemingly safe website, the programme will redirect you to the fake site instead. You would be hard-pressed even to notice, but if you don’t notice, you’ll just keep going back to the fake sites every time.

  • DNS server poisoning

This form of pharming attack is what allows hackers to target a wider range of victims, as rather than targeting individual devices, they corrupt the DNS server. As the individual using the website, you have no way to know or expect that the website might be redirecting you to a fraudulent one.

DNS server poisoning is a pharming cyberattack that truly highlights the importance of cyber security in business. If your DNS server is compromised, then any customers, clients or visitors to your website can be hacked, have malicious software or programmes installed on their devices or lose control of important personal information.

 

How to Spot a Pharming Cyberattack

The most important thing to remember is to take steps to prevent pharming from happening or affecting your business. With any pharming cyberattack, it can be difficult to know if you’ve been a victim until it’s too late. So, now you know what a pharming attack is in cybersecurity, here are a few signifiers your personal information may have been pharmed.

  1. PayPal, credit or debit card payments are going out of your account that you haven’t authorised.
  2. Apps, programmes or devices have appeared on your phone that you didn’t install.
  3. Finding passwords changed on any online accounts when you didn’t change them.
  4. Social media activity that you don’t recognise – this often appears as posts you didn’t make, messages you didn’t send or connections you didn’t request, all appearing under your name.

If you notice any of these signs, change any potentially infected passwords and contact your bank to inform them of the situation and ensure no further damage is done. You should also search your computer for any signs of malware, clear your DNS cache and speak to your internet service provider.

 

So, what is pharming in cyber security? In short, a very dangerous threat to your business’s information, as well as that of your clients or customers. To avoid being a victim of a pharming cyberattack or leading visitors to your website that is at risk, ensure you have IT support that you can trust.

At Integral IT, we carry out independent cybersecurity assessments and consultations and can help guide you towards a bespoke solution for your business. Contact us today to see how we can help you.