Pharming is a dangerous scam that can affect whole groups of people at once. With phishing a thief has to send e-mails to each individual; however, with pharming the thief alters the address of the site you are trying to go to. Each web site has a specific address or DNS (Domain Name System). For example Key Bank is keybank.com. The thief alters the DNS that transfers web and e-mail addresses (URL’s) into numerical strings that contain false information regarding which web site belongs to that string. The false information directs the user to the thief’s web site that looks exactly like the genuine site where the unsuspecting user enters personal information and account numbers.
Since the thief is targeting the DNS system and not individuals every person that logs onto a specific web site is diverted to the fake site. Even more alarming is that since the thief is altering the numerical sequence there is nothing to alert the consumer. He may type in keybank.com and believe that that is the site he is going to however his “address” has been altered to go to the thief’s site.
The Anti-Phishing Working Group www.antiphishing.org recommends the following safeguards:
- Be suspicious of any e-mail with urgent requests for personal information.
- Don’t use the links in an e-mail to get to any web page. If you suspect the message might not be authentic call the company on the telephone.
- Avoid filling out forms in e-mail messages that ask for personal financial information.
- Regularly log onto your online accounts and check your bank credit card and debit card statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate.
- Ensure that your browser is up to date and security patches applied.