Introduction 

If you are from a completely non-technical background then you must be having absolutely no idea about pharming and the potential devastation it can cause if left unchecked. In this article about Pharming, you will get to know about the ways and means to move ahead in the IT-driven world without facing the risks of pharming.

  1. What is pharming?
  2. How to recognize pharming?
  3. Vulnerability involving pharming at home and work
  4. How to prevent pharming?
  5. Instances of pharming

1. What is pharming?

Pharming is a sophisticated and precise cyber-attack that aims at driving the traffic of one website to another fake website thereby causing immense confusion and distrust among the clients of the original site. It can be achieved in two ways, either by changing the name of the host on the infected computer or by making use of any sort of vulnerability in the DNS server software.

When the latter is adopted, the compromised DNS servers are termed as poisoned. Pharming is mainly involved in online identity theft along with phishing. What makes pharming one of the most vicious cyber threats is that antivirus software and spyware removal software cannot protect against it so only highly sophisticated software is required to battle it.

2. How to recognize pharming?

Even though there is no one foolproof method to identify pharming, there are multiple ways through which one can get a firm idea about it. Checking for secure websites tops the list of these methods to prevent pharming. Any secure website will follow HTTP protocols so one should commence the process of filling in their credentials once the site is found to be safe. Looking for defacements like the removal of the original logo by the attacker of the website could also prove to be helpful.

Most of the time these minute details help to achieve a better analysis of a compromised website. If the website is persistently showing unwanted ads, pop-ups and cookies then it most often than not is compromised. Lastly, being on the lookout for a URL containing comments is another way to make sure if the site is safe to use or not.

3. Vulnerability involving pharming at home and work

As we all are aware of the fact that the most amount of malicious activity is possible at the leaves of internet because this part can be easily compromised, therefore a large number of systems can be infected in one go itself due to a pharming hook-up. Personal computers and desktops are easier targets for malware because there sense of security walls is less efficient as compared to corporate systems or organizational servers.

When a local network router gets infected, it can spoil lookups for the entire LAN since most routers would be connected to one main, trusted DNS. Moreover, this type of malware is more difficult to detect than individual infection. Sometimes even the firmware (the internal component responsible for performing the more complex actions of the computer) can also get infected and this too is extremely difficult to detect.

The bottom is that individual desktops are more prone to pharming attacks because usually the administrative passwords are default factory passwords and remain unchanged which makes it easier for the cybercriminals to guess them through dictionary attacks. Pharming is only one of the active threats that the firmware can be attacked with. Others include traffic logging, a man in the middle attacks (alteration of communication between two sides by a third party without their knowledge), eavesdropping, and misconfiguration.

4. How to prevent pharming?

there are several ways in which pharming can be dealt with but using antivirus software and spyware is not one method since they work on a different principle as compared to pharming. Pharming attacks are initiated online in most cases and hence cannot be prevented by using something that is embedded in the internal system of the device. Some techniques to prevent pharming are: –

  • Never click on the URL of the website while navigation for it. Always make sure to open a fresh tab and manually fill in the link of the site. This way the redirection to a fraud site can be prevented because the exact link is entered and the host recognizes the original website instead of the fake one.
  • In order to save yourself the tedious task of getting rid of malware, never click on the pop – ups, ads or cookies that appear on a site. These are always an indication that the site is compromised and would ultimately end up putting you in risk.
  • Always check for the http keyword. Any site that does not follow http protocol has a high chance of being a fraudster.it is essential to note the small details of any site while opening it like the logo or the further linked sites since the attack is mostly hidden in these minor things.

5. Instances of pharming

  • One of the most prominent pharming attacks was noted in 2005 when the domain name of a New York-based ISP was infected and traced to a place in Australia. Luckily, no revenue losses were noted and the domain name was retrieved safely within two days.
  • A pharming attack that affected almost 50 multinational companies based in Europe, Asia, and the US was observed in 2007. the hackers successfully made similar, individual pages for each company so when the victims clicked on the site, the malicious code embedded in the link forced them to download a trojan horse malware into their systems, and the login information of multiple companies and their working staff was collected without their knowledge. This massive attack continued to wreak havoc for almost three days.
  • Symantec reported a pharming attack in 2008 which was basically against a Mexican bank in which the home router of some customers was altered after receiving the receipts via email. Many customers fell into this trap because the email seemed to be generated by a legitimate Spanish language greeting card company.

Conclusion

Pharming is very prevalent in today’s technology-driven world filled with constant competition and cyber-attacks. Hackers find loopholes in the system and breach the security walls to change the router information and the consequent navigation of the device. With the correct knowledge of its working, we can avoid the threat up to a large extent.

After reading this article we hope you have a better understanding of the pharming threats that we constantly face in today’s world.

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give you an edge in this competitive world.

Also Read

SHARE