The origins of phishing and pharming are rather interesting. Both started from traditional earning sources, fishing and farming, until they were taken in a cyber context and turned into a ploy. In cyber theft, phishing and pharming are two scams that criminals use to manipulate people into disclosing confidential information.

These tactics are two of the biggest threats in cyberspace, and as security systems improve, so do cybercriminal tactics. Phishing and pharming have the same end goal, to acquire sensitive information, but they have a few differences:


  • What Is Phishing?

Phishing is social engineering that manipulates users into revealing personal and confidential information. Hackers generally send a spoofed email with a legitimate source name to trick the victim into clicking on the malicious link or attachment. When they do, hackers then get access to their target’s confidential information.

Scammers use software or security vulnerabilities installed in the user’s device to make their ploy work. However, phishing attacks are not only limited to email because cyber thieves also use SMS and voice messaging and act like legitimate sources to target victims. An example of this would be a cybercriminal pretending to be an employee of your bank.


  • What Is Pharming?

Pharming is when cybercriminals install malicious code in the user’s device or a server that unknowingly redirects them to fraudulent websites. These fake websites may look legitimate at first, but they have a hidden motive of stealing confidential information, such as the user’s login details, personal data, and banking information.

In addition, authentic links and domains may also get hijacked by hackers and steal user information. Pharming can be more dangerous for online users since the chance of identifying a lurking danger is low, especially that social engineering scams are prevalent. Cyber attackers may also imitate a legitimate website where users will unknowingly hand out their username, password, and other critical information.

Differences Between Phishing and Pharming

Both phishing and pharming have something to do with the domain name system (DNS), or the system that connects web browsers to websites. Pharming scams are executed by misusing the DNS as the primary weapon, while phishing attacks use spoofed websites that seem legitimate to users.

Aside from those, here are the main differences between phishing and pharming:

  • Phishing uses baits like fake links, while pharming negotiates on the DNS server to redirect users to a simulated website. Once the hacker launches a successful DNS attack in pharming, it diverts the fundamental flow of traffic to the website.
  • Pharming uses techniques like DNS hijacking, DNS cache poisoning, and DNS spoofing, while phishing uses smishing, fax phishing, and vishing. All these are data theft techniques that caused many organisations to suffer.
  • Pharming is trickier than phishing since it launches an attack at the DNS level, making it difficult to spot. However, phishing remains the top social engineering scam that lures victims into submitting confidential information.


 Avoid falling prey to phishing and pharming scams by investing in an excellent cybersecurity system and solutions to protect your organisation. As both tactics get more complex, threats become more dangerous. The only way to combat this misuse of technology is through even more advanced and high-tech means.


At FraudWatch, we create anti-phishing, anti-pharming, and anti-malware cybersecurity systems to protect organisations from cybercriminals. We are a global online fraud and cybersecurity service provider creating monitoring and brand protection tools so you don’t have to worry about criminals lurking on your organisation’s system. If you want better cyber protection, get in touch with us today!