Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Down on the Pharm

At this moment, our low vision and sighted readers think I've lost my mind. No, I didn't spell it wrong! Pharming (with a "ph") is actually a term used in the computer world. I know you've heard of phishing before, because we've talked about it in the database and blog, and well, pharming sort of goes along with that. It's just another example of how hackers try to manipulate computer users via the Internet. Keep reading for a more detailed definition.

Basically, pharming is the act of redirecting users to fake Web sites, without them ever knowing it happened. When you want to visit a Website, you type its domain name into your Web browser and that's then translated into an IP address by the means of a DNS server. After all of that goes through, the information is then stored in your computer's DNS cache. Hackers can use this to redirect you to a false site, one determined by the hacker.

Pharming can also occur as an email virus that can destroy a user's DNS cache. Other pharmers can ruin whole DNS servers as well. Luckily, most DNS servers have good security features, but it still doesn't make them immune. So, if you're on a Website that looks strange, you may be caught in a pharming incident. If that happens, restart your computer to reset your DNS settings, run your antivirus scan and then try going to the same site again. If it still looks odd, contact your ISP and tell them what's been going on. No, pharming is not as commonly known as phishing scams, but it can still be very dangerous.

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