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pharming

Learn what Pharming is and how ALEC is protecting you.

A new scam that’s being increasingly seen is called pharming. Unlike phishing that requires the victimized user to click on a link or attachment, this scam simply redirects victims to fraudulent websites without assistance.

Pharming corrupts a basic service of the internet known as the Domain Name Service (DNS). Each machine connected to the internet knows the location of one or more DNS servers. This service translates a human-friendly Uniform Resource Locator (URL) name (such as www.alecu.org) into an Internet Protocol (IP) address, which is a unique number that has been assigned to each web server on the Internet.

Pharmers must first gain access to the DNS server and replace the IP number for the financial institution’s URL with the IP number of their fraudulent website. When this occurs, any person using that DNS server will be secretly redirected to the fraudulent website.

Pharming requires either an unpatched software/server vulnerability to exist on the DNS server itself, or the criminal needs an insider at the Internet Service Provider (ISP) or financial institution to make unauthorized DNS server changes. Rest assured, ALEC regularly manages and updates its DNS server’s software to maintain the extremely high level of security to help ensure that our members are protected.