The Difference Between Phishing and Pharming

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Phishing and pharming are two of the most malicious threats in cyberspace and aim to acquire their victim’s sensitive information, both personal and work-related. These scams can happen to anyone, so knowing what these two tactics are and what they do is essential in protecting your sensitive information. We have a dedicated blog post to the importance of cyber security specifically for businesses, complete with our experts’ cyber security basics to consider. This post will briefly explore what phishing and pharming are, the main similarities, and the main differences.  

What Is Phishing?

Phishing involves the attacker sending malicious emails and instant messages to their victims with a dodgy link that they are enticed to click on. Once clicked, the victim may be taken to a website to enter their private details and passwords, or their computer may be infected with malware.

What Is Pharming?

Pharming is a type of attack where the victim will be redirected from a legitimate website to the hacker’s, often identical, fake website. This imitated website will encourage the victim to enter private information.

The Similarities Between Phishing and Pharming

  1. Obtaining Personal Information
They are both attacks in which the attacker seeks to gain the victim’s personal information, such as their passwords or bank details.
  1. Domain Name System (DNS)
The attacks both involve the use and misuse of the domain name system (DNS) – the system by which domain names and addresses are regulated.  

The Difference Between Phishing and Pharming

  1. The technique of the attack
In phishing, the attacker tries to secure a person’s private information through an email or instant message as the victim will follow a dodgy link. However, pharming uses a more advanced technique to obtain a person’s sensitive information by moving them to a false (yet very similar) website, where the user will be enticed to disclose details. This means that while a phishing attack targets an individual, pharming targets any visitor to that website.
  1. Ease of identification of the attack
As cyber security has advanced, so have cyber attackers. Phishing messages have advanced from ‘click here to receive $10,000,000’ from a distant relative in a faraway country to incredibly deceptive and legitimate-looking messages, such as ‘your Outlook inbox is full’. With phishing becoming harder to detect, more individuals and businesses are falling prey to these scams. However, pharming attacks can be even more difficult to identify, as they don’t require any action on the victim’s part – instead of having to click a link or fill in sensitive data, a victim may have no reason to believe that the site they have visited is not legitimate.    
  1. Ease of initiation of the attack
Phishing is easier for the attacker to implement, whereas pharming is requires more skill and is more difficult for a hacker to initiate. We have blog posts covering strategies to prevent pharming, and how to prevent phishing. If you require more help dealing with these malicious hacking techniques, please book a cyber security assessment with our friendly team, or contact us today.

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