In a pharming attack, attackers manipulate the DNS system to associate a legitimate domain name with a different IP address that they control. Once the user is redirected to the malicious website, they effortlessly provide sensitivie information like card numbers, IDs, login credentials, etc. The different ways in which attackers do so are :
- Attackers misuse the vulnerabilities on the DNS server and inject false information into the DNS cache (DNS cache poisoning). The server then associates a malicious IP address with a legitimate domain name.
- If your router/modem is compromised, then the attacker can modify your DNS settings and redirect you to malicious sites, threatening your security.
- Malicious software (malware) can change a user’s system settings to modify the DNS configuration, sending them to fraudulent websites.
Levels Of Pharming Attacks
- User-Level Pharming:
This works along the line sof a phishing attack. The user clicks on a suspicious link and downloads the malicious software. This leads to the alteration of the local DNS records and the user is redirected to a malicious website tat looks exactly like the original website.
- Server-Level Pharming:
This is also known as DNS spoofing or DNS hijacking. The cybercriminals target the server and in this case, thousands of victims can fall prey to the attack. The DNS servers are physically hijacked or MITM (man-in-the-middle) attacks take place.
How To Protect Yourself From Pharming Attacks?
As an end-user, here are a few measure you can adopt in order to safeguard yourself from malicious pharming attacks.
- Install A Good Antivirus
A reliable antivirus does half of the job when it comes to online security. This enables you to avoid the majority of harmful downloads, shady websites, and bogus links. Though PCs generally come with free anti-virus, the commercial versions typically work better.
- Router Security
Ensuring the protection of WiFi routers is essential as they can function like tiny DNS servers. Replace the company-provided passwords, to begin with.
- Use VPN with Private DNS
Many security layers, including their own DNS, are added while using a VPN. This shields you not only from cybercriminals but also from ISP and governmental snooping. For the best safety possible, you should confirm that the VPN has encrypted DNS servers.
- Opt For A Distinguished ISP
Internet service providers operate as DNS servers and in contrast to free public DNS providers like Google Public DNS, ISP’s DNS only slightly increases performance. However, it’s crucial to choose the most reliable ISP available optimal speed and overall protection.
- Deploy Custom DNS Server
OpenDNS, Cloudflare, Google, and other providers all offer free public DNS. The fact that the DNS provider may view your web behaviour is crucial. You should therefore be vigilant about who you grant access to your web activities.