Phishing and pharming are both types of cyber-attack but have different approaches. Phishing is more common than pharming. The explanations for both are very technical so I apologise to all the cybercrime experts reading, as I am not technical with computers and computer language, but I have tried to simplify it as best as I can.
Phishing is a method of attack where the sole aim is to get you to reveal personal details. Scammers do this by encouraging you to click on a link, which will take you to a page specifically designed to get information from you. They will claim they are from your bank or somewhere equally plausible and they might say that there is an issue with your account, please log in and update your details.
The point of a phishing e-mail is to obtain your confidential information such as date of birth, phone numbers, credit card details, home address or password (or information required for a password reset). They add in an element of urgency, preying on people’s fear of having bank accounts locked out for example.
The term phishing was coined because there is a ‘hook’ to a phishing e-mail, i.e. what makes you take notice in the first place, then the ‘bait’ i.e. what will make you click on that link, and, finally, the ‘catch’, when you take the final step.
Phishing is the most common cyber threat, not just in the UK, but all over the world. One in 5 people who have received a suspect email is prone to clicking on a malicious link.
Pharming is the practice of using a malicious code which is installed on a computer. This will misdirect your computer to a fake site, which looks, to all intents and purposes, like the real site. Don’t forget you may have clicked on a legitimate link to a website, but the malicious code redirects you. Again, this is with the intention of getting you to log in and enter personal details.
So how can we protect ourselves? Basic e-mail security will help but now you understand how phishing works and in what forms, you have a better chance of recognising it. Always check e-mails carefully before opening attachments or replying. If in doubt, contact the company directly and ask their customer services if they have contacted you.
So just to explain the difference between phishing and pharming again. In a nutshell, phishing e-mails are baited and when you click on a link, you are directed to a fake site. Pharming uses malicious code to redirect clicks from a legitimate link or web address to a fake website.”
Natasha Fountain CAPASP