Pharming - What it is and how to avoid it | NatWest

What is Pharming

How to spot pharming and prevent
yourself from becoming a victim

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Pharming is an online attack that directs people from a trusted website to another site that’s owned by a fraudster. The fake site creates a way for fraudsters to steal important information that could help them access your finances.

Thankfully there are some simple ways to protect yourself from pharming. Take a look at our guide on how to a spot and avoid pharming attacks.


How do fraudsters do it?


  1. The first involves an initial Phishing  scam. A fraudster will contact the victim via email, pretending to be a well-known organisation, and ask them to click a malicious link. If the link is clicked, it will install a virus on the user’s computer that diverts users to the fake website.  
  2. The second method involves the criminal targeting a legitimate website with a virus. When a user enters that website address into the search bar, the virus will take them to the fake website. 
Add your signposting title here… Examples of pharming

Fake websites are utilised to install viruses on the user’s computer, something known as a ‘drive-by infection', or attempt to collect personal or financial information directly, with specific prompts.

In a lot of cases, a hijacked website just redirects to fake anti-virus software sites or advertisements – thankfully these fake websites are usually easy to recognise. If you’re ever taken to a page that urges you to download an antivirus software or update a programme you didn’t know you had, make sure you research it before taking action. 


Add your signposting title here… How to prevent pharming

Here are some tips to help you avoid pharming:

  • It’s important to install an antivirus software that will catch any viruses before they damage your computer
  • Look out for an “invalid certificate” message popping up in your browser – this could be a sign that you’ve been taken to an untrustworthy site
  • Never submit your data to a website which doesn’t present a padlock icon in the address bar. Although not completely fool-proof, the lock icon does indicate that it is a website with an up-to-date certificate


Stay safe online with IMB Trusteer Rapport


Download additional security software to ensure you’re protecting your Online Banking and card details when shopping online. Try IBM Trusteer Rapport, available for PCs, laptops and Macs. 

Make sure you’re aware of the different types of fraud out there by visiting our fraud guide.

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