What Exactly Is Pharming?

If you think the word “pharming” has anything to do with the picture below then this article is definitely for you!

I would imagine that most moderately savvy web users have a reasonable idea of what ‘phishing’ is.


(If not, you should perhaps read : What Exactly Is A Phishing Scam)

But do you understand the concept of ‘pharming’?

Phishing and pharming both attempt to get their victim to visit a fake website with the intention of then tricking them into giving out personal and sensitive information about themselves.

The essential difference between the two methods is that phishing will utilise email in order to trick the victim into clicking on a link to the website whereas pharming will try to redirect the victim’s browser directly onto said site.

Pharming does not need the user to either click on a link within an email message or to have a system that has been compromised by a Trojan or a keylogger.

For that reason pharming has sometimes been referred to as ‘phishing without a lure’.

Pharmers will typically use some type of redirection technique by altering a company’s hosts files or domain name system (DNS) such that requests for some specific URLs are then diverted to their bogus site.

What this means is that the typical user will end up on a perfectly spoofed website, having no idea that it is not the genuine version, despite having typed the correct URL into their browser.

Other less subtle forms of pharming involve Trojan horses, worms and other nasties that directly attack the browser address bar, thereby transporting the user to a bogus website even when they have typed in the correct address.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


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