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Phishing entices you with bait in the form of a bogus email or link. Pharming, however, redirects you to a bogus or malicious website even if you have typed the correct web address, with the aim of stealing confidential information. This ‘domain spoofing’ is applied to the websites of banks or e-commerce firms and allows the scammers to target large groups of people at once, unlike phishing which attempts to scam people individually.

Key Advice

  1. Use a trusted, legitimate internet service provider (ISP): Rigorous security at the ISP level is your first line of defense against pharming. Internet service providers are continuously working to filter out ‘pharmed’ sites.
  2. Antivirus software: Install an antivirus program on your computer that does the right job for you. It’s good practice to buy an antivirus system from a trusted security software provider to reduce your exposure to pharming scams.
  3. Keep your computer updated: Download the latest security updates (or patches) for your web browser and operating system to stay protected. Always use a good secure web browser.
  4. Double-check the spelling of a website: In most cases, the attacker obscures the actual URL by overlaying a legitimate looking address or by using a similarly spelled URL. Always check the web address bar to make sure the spelling is correct.
  5. Check the URL: Check the URL of any site that asks you to provide personal information. Make sure your session begins at the known authentic address of the site, with no additional characters appended to it. But it is important to remember that your browser may display the legitimate URL, but you will not be on the legitimate server.
  6. Check the ‘HTTP‘ address: It is the safest and easiest practice to follow. When you visit a page where you are asked to enter personal information, the ‘http’ should change to ‘https”. The “s” stands for secure.
  7. Look for the padlock symbol: A locked padlock, or a key, indicates a secure, encrypted connection and an unlocked padlock, or a broken key, indicates an unsecured connection. So, always look for a padlock or key on the bottom of your browser or your computer taskbar.