What is Pharming?

Pharming refers to an attempt by a hacker to redirect a website’s traffic to another site, developed for the purpose of stealing information from users. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in either the host files on a personal computer or on the domain name system (DNS) server software. DNS servers work to direct information on the internet, similar to a road map for traffic. DNS translates human-friendly web addresses such as “google.com” into the correct IP address so the user doesn’t have to remember a long series of digits for every website they visit. Compromised DNS servers are referred to as “poisoned.” Pharming attacks replace the IP address for a site, so that even when the user types in the correct site name directly into their browser, they are redirected to another site of the attacker’s choosing. The site the user sees could even resemble the site they were expecting to visit and could also contain malware created to steal user information, infect the user’s computer or install adware. Because pharming completely replaces a DNS entry for a website, it can potentially re-direct large volumes of users to bogus websites, exposing them to potential hazards. Therefore, it is advised that if you are visiting a bank or other website where you will be entering sensitive information that you look to make sure that you are using a secure connection through HTTPS.

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