Difference Between Phishing and Pharming

Nowadays, people are easily tricked by hackers, especially in the case of providing personal information for dealing with any online transactions.


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Phishing is acquiring the personal deeds of the user by enticing them with emails, calls, or messages. Pharming is an act of redirecting a large number of users to a fake site, by exploiting DNS servers.

Phishing vs Pharming

The difference between Phishing and Pharming is that Phishing is an illegal act of acquiring a user’s sensitive information by communicating online, whereas, on the other hand, Pharming is also an illegal act, where one gets the user’s permission in order to make into the user’s website to do malicious things. 

Phishing vs Pharming

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Phishing is an illegal act where the hackers get into users’ computers by sending malicious spam messages or uploading malicious software like ransomware, in a way to trick the users to gain access to their sensitive information.

In this way, while the users navigate the sites, the hackers will mirror the screen, eventually, gathering the information. 

On the contrary, Pharming is also a cybercrime attack that often takes place under the noses of the users. This illegal act directs the users from one website to another in order to install a potentially harmful program on the computer.

It is mostly done by either changing the hosts’ files or exploiting DNS server software. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPhishing Pharming 
DefinitionAn attacker tries to trick the user by getting their information through email, calls, or messages.An attacker directly leads users to a spurious website by damaging their DNS server on the PC.
IdentificationPhishing is easy to detect the illegal act of a hacker.Pharming is difficult to identify as it involves website traffic and more users.
How it worksThe attacker sends a message or email which leads to obtaining the personal information of the user.The attacker ameliorates the IP address in the user’s DNS server and directs to a fake site. 
Number of VictimsThe attacker aims at one user/person at a timeThe attacker aims at a large group of people at one time. 
AvoidedPhishing can be eradicated by installing anti-phishing software on your computer.By employing anti-pharming, anti-malware tools and securing your DNS service properly helps to avoid pharming

What is Phishing?

As it says above, Phishing is an illegal act where an attacker tries to get into a user’s website by sending spam messages, which could trick the users into revealing their confidential information.

Phishing can be done by either sending malicious messages or installing malicious software such as Ransomware on the user’s computer.

Moreover, the most common and easily done phishing is social engineering, where the attacker physiologically manipulates the users in clicking the harmful element.

Furthermore, link manipulation is one of the Phishing techniques where misspelled links and URLs are created. The first act named Phishing is back in the 1980s and was officially reported by Koceilah Rekouche while creating cracking toolkit AOHell.

And soon enough, phishing is cited as the most common cybercrime attack in 2020, where it is increased from 72% to 86% among online businesses. 

The word is derived from phreaking, or fishing, implicating the idea of fishing the users’ sensitive information without their knowledge.

Moreover, phishing is often noticed in emails and includes other types, such as spear phishing, clone phishing, whaling & CEO fraud, voice phishing, page hijacking, SMS phishing, and calendar phishing.

Consequently, many solutions and training are introduced to prevent and reduce phishing attacks, much like legislation, public awareness, and various technical security precautions.  

What is Pharming?

On the other hand, Pharming is also one of the most commonly occurring cybercrime attacks around the world. However, pharming is an act of directing the users to a deleterious website or damaging the DNS server software on the computer.

To put it in simple words, pharming is just like phishing but excludes the enticement of users into the process. 

It is almost ubiquitous in businesses hosting e-commerce and online banking websites. The word pharming is a computer slang directed to the word farming, illustrating the process of cultivating and gathering the users’ confidential information.

Pharming is simply involving the exploitation of DNS (Domain Name Server) software on the computer, where it changes the IP address of an authentic website into a malicious one.

Eventually, redirects the user to a potentially risky website. 

Furthermore, one can identify whether their computer is under pharming attack or not, via an unsecured connection, where instead of HTTPS, it will be written as HTTP and other misspelled & unfamiliar designs in the website. 

Over and above, pharming can be prevented by installing anti-virus and anti-malware security software, besides being cautious.

Also, to be more cautious, one can enable two-factor authentication, switch to a more safe internet service provider, and use VPN service in a way to avoid pharming as much as possible. 

Main Differences Between Phishing and Pharming

  1. Phishing is an illicit act of sending an enticing email or instant message to users by seeking their personal information without the user’s consent. On the other hand, Pharming is disturbing the DNS server of the user’s computer that changes the IP address of the site and redirects to a spurious website.
  2. Speaking of types, Phishing has various categories such as spear phishing, voice phishing, clone phishing, whaling fraud, page hijacking, calendar phishing, etc. Meanwhile, Pharming is commonly known as the word farming. 
  3. Phishing focuses on single users while hacking their personal or private deeds at a time, but Pharming tricks a large group of people at a time. 
  4. Phishing can be avoided by installing anti-phishing software. Nevertheless, users should be more cautious and install antivirus and anti-malware security software to prevent pharming. 
  5. The purpose of phishing is to obtain exclusion information of the users and reduce their online security by luring them into social security numbers, credit/debit card deeds, account passwords, etc. Meanwhile, pharming is largely practiced through domain spoofing in order to overwhelm the volume of traffic over a site. 
Difference Between Phishing and Pharming
  1. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/2746194.2746208
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11416-016-0270-6
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