What is pharming and how should I protect myself?

Pharming is a Web attack where criminals are interested in obtaining your username and password from an e-commerce site or bank. Pharming can occur when you click a valid and correct link to a Web site or even when you have typed the URL of the Web site yourself. In a pharming attack, the criminal “hijacks” the intended site’s DNS (domain name system) server. The DNS is what points a certain address to a certain page. The result is that you are redirected to an imposter site that looks like your intended site. Many won’t notice any difference, will enter their username and password as usual, and the attacker captures it. Sometimes only viewing the Web page can compromise a system.

With diligence, you can protect yourself from pharming. When you visit a Web site where you may transmit sensitive information, take a few moments to look around. First, be sure you are on a HTTPS server. Check for the little padlock in the corner of the screen. Second, look to see if it is certified by an Internet Trust Organization, or check its certificate and encryption levels. If you have any doubts – do not enter your personal information.

See: How do I know if I can trust a Web site?
See: What is a certificate?