Security company Fortinet has released a paper offering guidelines to identifying so-called pharming (define) scams.
Fortinet says that Gartner reported similar scams, such as phishing (define), accounting for $2.4 billion in fraud, or an average of $1,200 per victim in 2004.
Unlike phishing, which relies on straightforward deception to direct users to a malicious site, pharming is a complex attack, often involving DNS cache poisoning, spyware, keystroke logging, and manipulation of hosts files in vulnerable systems. In all varieties, the goal is to trick the unsuspecting user into providing confidential information to a site that looks authentic right down to the URL in the address bar.
Fortinet paper offers five steps to identify a site that may be part of a pharming attack, including simple visual cues where the faked site doesn't quite match the legitimate site it's imitating, requests for more information than normal, the lack of SSL encryption (as indicated by a missing "padlock" icon in the browser window), and alerts to SSL certificate validation problems.
The paper is available as a five page PDF from Fortinet site.