Pharming and the Seeds of Online Deception
Suppose you changed your appearance to look like someone else, stole their bank account numbers and passwords, and learned how to forge their signature. By taking the following actions, you could likely walk into a bank and empty their financial accounts.
In the same way, hackers have learned how to steal by creating virtual disguises online. This is at the root of the pharming industry. Pharming is a combination of the words farming and phishing. Phishing happens when a hacker steals user names and passwords with a malicious intent. Phishing generally uses email to gain this information by sending out bogus emails that require the reader to click on a link and type in personal information. Pharming takes things one step further by actually taking control of internet servers to gain people’s personal information.
The Pharming Industry
Pharming was created to give hackers the ability to redirect traffic from one website to another. Usually the site that the traffic is redirected to is fraudulent or fake. The fake site can actually look identical to the real one, however. Pharming hackers make a considerable effort to design the fraudulent site to look and function just like the real one. This means the design, colors, functions, and text are all the same as the original site.
Once the hacker has lured you to the website, they expect you to type in your user name and password. This information is logged by the hacker, allowing them access to your personal information whenever they so choose. Financial site are especially susceptible to this practice. eBay, online banking sites, brokerage firms, and PayPal are among the many sites that are impersonated by hackers.
Cropping Pharmer Access
By being vigilant when surfing the net, you are far less likely to fall into a pharming scam. Here are a few tips to keep in mind next time you are about to type in your personal password and user name for your bank account:
* Check the website’s address. If the address appears to have changed from what it normally is, don’t enter any personal information. Even if the site looks the same as your usual banking homepage, a different address means that it is probably an imposter. Some hackers have been able to hijack the website and use the actual address. In these cases, it can be quite difficult to identify the site as the creation of a hacker.
* To guarantee that the connection is secure, look to see if the address reads “http” or “https.” Some legitimate sites still have not made their login pages secure, so “http” doesn’t always signify pharming. The added “s” in “https” stands for secure.
If you think you’ve been swindled by a pharming hacker, you should first check all of your personal accounts and change your passwords and user names. You basically need to take the same steps you would take if your credit card were stolen from your wallet. By practicing safe internet browsing habits in the future, you are far less likely to find yourself entangled in a pharming incident.