Feeds

Phishing morphs into pharming

Nascent threat worries security researchers

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Seven Steps to Software Security

Fraudsters and mischief makers are developing more insidious techniques for tricking users into visiting bogus websites. Rather than using spam to con prospective victims into clicking their way to illicit sites - so called phishing attacks - internet ne'er-do-wells are using DNS poisoning or domain hijacks to redirect users to dodgy urls.

The trick - dubbed pharming - is potentially more sinister than phishing because it avoids the need to coax users into responding to junk email alerts. The attacks also occur across a broader front, potentially misdirecting all email and web traffic away from victims. Gerhard Eschelbeck, CTO of Qualys, cited the recent hijack of New York ISP Panix as typical of the type of threat that might emerge. Eschelbeck reckons the use of redirection attacks remains largely the domain of mischief makers. Other security commentators ascribe darker motives. "Pharming is a next-generation phishing attack," Scott Chasin, CTO of MX Logic, told Government Computer News.

Both experts agree that pharming is simply a new application of well-known security weaknesses. It highlights security loopholes that can only be partly addressed by better browser security. Improved browser security to prevent address spoofing or crypto plug-in to verify the digital certificates of sites might help. Banking sites could adopt two-factor authentication as a comprehensive defence. More fundamentally, the nascent threat of pharming re-emphasises the need to revamp DNS systems and domain registration that critics argue is long overdue. ®

Related stories

Probably the simplest phishing trick in the world
Panix recovers from domain hijack
The aftermath of a domain name hijack

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.