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Pharming as a Method of Phishing

A growing form of identity theft based upon earlier phishing scams is pharming. In these cases, criminal Internet attackers redirect traffic to their fraudulent web sites that are identical in appearance to legitimate sites, such as those of financial institutions. They then trick you into entering your personal information in order to steal your identity or access your bank accounts.

These attackers have built upon the premise of phishing scams, taking them a step further by hijacking the DNS server, effectively redirecting the IP address of the target website from the real address to that of the criminal. The victim can properly enter the website address of their financial institution and unwittingly be taken to the fraudulent website.

Internet Phishing vs. Pharming for Identity Theft

The Domain Name System, or DNS, is the equivalent of the Internet white pages. When a user types in a website address, the DNS directs the user to the appropriate website. There are some pharmers who poison the DNS directories, so that anyone typing in the website address which they have duplicated will be directed to their bogus web site. The user then logs on with a user name and password, and the pharmer suddenly is in possession of their sensitive account information.

Internet phishing scams require the criminal to capture information one user at a time, which can be time consuming. By poisoning the DNS server, pharmers can target large groups of people at once, increasing their results exponentially. Pharming is essentially Internet phishing upgraded to exploit new technology. The massive growth of online commerce has created an atmosphere of massive profit for Internet phishers and pharmers.

Internet Phishing, Pharmers, and Wireless Routers

Wireless routers contain software that is known as firmware, which tells the device how to execute its more complex processes. Internet phishers and pharmers have begun to infect firmware with various types of malware, which can eavesdrop on and log Internet traffic. These types of attacks can be very difficult to locate since they occur outside the Internet and outside the home, yet they can pose a significant threat to your financial security.

Protecting Yourself from Internet Phishing and Pharming

Whenever you visit your bank’s website, take the time to inspect the address and web page you were taken to and look for any signs that it may not be valid. If you suspect that anything is amiss, do not enter your personal information on the web site. If you receive a pop-up box requesting your personal information, do not fill it out. Reputable financial institutions will not provide any pop-ups for your personal information.

In addition to using due diligence, employ the use of a reputable anti-spyware and anti-spam software that will also protect you from phishing scams. One such software is made by PC Tools & ParetoLogic, and has the most advanced anti-phishing detection and protection capabilities on the market. This advanced software has the ability to scan your hard drive and eliminate any malicious software that has been planted in an attempt to steal your identity or your account information. Using such anti-phishing software helps protect you from unwanted attacks by these sophisticated criminals.