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Phishers Are Now Pharming for Greener Pastures

First they 'phished' and made a living out of it. Now the hackers and malware authors have taken up 'pharming' as a new source of gathering resources from net users.

Internet users have now become aware of phishing scams and are able to avoid the phony e-mails from crooks looking to steal personal information and clean out bank accounts. Most common glitches that are found in these spam mails are spelling mistakes, non inclusion of customer's name and enquiries regarding irrelevant information. Nowadays the cautious net users cast a suspicious eye on mails that seem dubious.

The hackers have started realizing that their game plan is no more effective and have now come with a new strategy called Pharming. In pharming, the hackers set up an exact replica of web sites of banks, financial institutions, firms etc. to redirect users' browser to their sites and steal any personal information that is provided. This new technique will make internet frauds much harder to spot.

Pharming is not new to the cyber world, it is also known as framing or domain name spoofing. Hackers now use a technique known as domain name system (DNS) poisoning. All websites have their URLs linked to a numeric IP address and this address brings users to the proper web site. In the DNS poisoning method, hackers crack the DNS and change the address linked to the URL, thus gaining access to personal identities and information.

The pharmers send a virus-laden email which invades the user's computer. Whenever the user tries to access banking sites it will direct the user to the scammers' hoax web site that looks identical to the original webpage of the bank. Apart from this, there are other viruses like keyloggers that track a user's keystrokes and send the information to the scammer.

One high profile case of suspected Pharming happened in January 2005, when Panix.com, a New York State-based Internet provider, was hacked and the users were re-routed before it could be shut down a few days later. Threats of Pharming are expected to increase as many cyber criminals have started propagating temporary websites to generate profits.

Related article: Phishers Expand Their Sphere of Attacks

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