What is Pharming and How Can Businesses Protect Themselves?


We live in an increasingly online world and the internet can be used for almost every aspect of our lives, from shopping, to banking, education, work and socialising. Unfortunately, this means that cyber attacks are becoming increasingly common and cyber criminals are constantly adapting their techniques to become more sophisticated.

Pharming is one form of cyber attack with the aim of obtaining personal information, like your banking data or passwords. It’s important to be able to identify pharming and take the necessary steps to protect yourself or your business, so read on to find out more.

What is pharming?

Unlike phishing (another form of cyber attack), pharming doesn’t require targets to click on a link embedded in a spam email. Pharming is a two step process; first, cyber criminals install malicious code on a computer or server. This code then automatically redirects targets to a bogus website, where they may be tricked into providing personal or sensitive information.

How does it work?

There are two different types of pharming attack; malware-based pharming and the dramatically named ‘DNS server poisoning’. Malware-based pharming can be picked up via a malicious email or download which can change a computer’s local host files. The malware then reroutes users to a fake site, even if they type in the correct intended address.

Domain Name Systems (DNS) are computers on the Internet that direct a website request to the right IP address. DNS server poisoning corrupts at the DNS server level by exploiting a vulnerability. This means that criminals can target large numbers of people and redirect them to fraudulent websites without their knowledge.

How to protect against a pharming attack

One of the most efficient ways to guard against pharming attacks is to install anti-virus and anti-malware software on your computer. This software will filter spam emails to prevent them reaching your inbox in the first place.

It’s also important to always check the security of any website; look for the padlock symbol at the top left of the search bar and make sure https features in the web address. You should also never click on any links or attachments if you’re unsure about the sender and enable two-factor authentication on any sites which offer it.

If you’re looking to protect your business against pharming attacks, consider the highly effective anti-spam software from MailCleaner. Our software packages are suitable for businesses of all sizes and can eliminate up to 99% of spam, so contact us today to find out more.