Feeds

Phishing morphs into pharming

Nascent threat worries security researchers

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
US government fines Intel's Wind River over crypto exports
New emphasis on encryption as a weapon?
To Russia With Love: Snowden's pole-dancer girlfriend is living with him in Moscow
While the NSA is tapping your PC, he's tapping ... nevermind
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
Put down that shotgun: Wi-Fi's the way to beat Zombies
CreepyDOL sensors can pick walkers from humans with MAC snack attack
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.