Phishing vs. Pharming | Major Differences

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Here, we are not dealing with some agriculture as you may think seeing the title; don’t get confused mixing the terms ‘fishing’ with ‘phishing’ and ‘farming’ with ‘pharming’. Although both the words phishing and pharming are extensively used for expressing cybersecurity threats, they actually serve the purpose of cultivating your online world by some social engineering and then reaping crops in the form of a theft bank account or personal information; that’s how their names came about. There are some key differences between phishing and pharming which you should be aware of as well so that you can identify which cyber threat you are facing at a given time. So, Phishing vs Pharming, and what are their major differences? Read the whole article to get secured online.


What is Phishing?

A phishing attempt is carried out by cybercriminals through email, messages, phone calls, or some malicious software. The most prominent way of phishing is the use of emails. The cybercriminals send emails (to specific users or randomly) that seem to be from legitimate sites that you aware of and of course this is the first trap for falling. These emails often contain a link; upon clicking on the link you may redirect to the website which was created and used by the criminals for gathering your personal information like bank account no, credit card credentials, Facebook login password, etc. That’s how you may lose money, account, or even the identity itself. There are various types of Phishing attacks nowadays.

What is Pharming?

Pharming is carried out deep in the server system of a network. The hackers hijack the domain of a website and then use it for his/her evil purpose. Even if the users type the right address of a website they can be redirected to another site as the former was hacked. The users then thinking the website as the real one that provides all the personal information and login credentials. Hence you understand the fact that pharming is engineered at the core level; you are tricked without your knowledge.

Differences Between Phishing and Pharming

Are you still confused about Phishing vs Pharming? We will discuss this in detail here. Although the outcome of phishing and pharming is the same i.e. property theft in the cyber world, they function differently as we have learned a little bit from the definitions. In this section, you will find some major differences between these two phenomena in a detailed manner. Before moving on to the differences, we need to learn about an important term called ‘DNS’ which actually sets pharming apart from phishing in terms of its function.

DNS: Key Factor

Domain Name System, in short DNS, is the way of representing websites’ addresses. You may know all the websites have got a unique identification i.e. IP(Internet Protocol) address which actually constitutes with the number system and IP address can easily be found by following some easy steps. As this would become really difficult to memorize and use a long string of numbers for websites’ URLs, it was necessary to come up with a system of identifying websites with letters rather than numbers. Thus DNS has come into the scene.

In terms of pharming, what hackers do is target the DNS of the server and through attacks on it. Once the server is compromised, they get hold of the hacked website and use it for tricking the users. As the process is carried out on the servers covertly, it is impossible for the general users to know whether or not the website is compromised. This is the process of pharming.

On the other hand, Phishing has nothing to do with Domain Name System. It is not that technical. Phishing is based upon the mistakes of the email or online users. If you do not click on any malicious link then you will be safe from phishing.

6 Major Differences

  1. Phishing targets the users (primarily email users); whereas pharming targets the DNS of a website.
  2. In phishing, you will redirect to a site that looks the same as the legitimate one if you are not careful enough; and in pharming, you will be directed to the actual site, but you won’t know that the site was actually hacked.
  3. Phishing is more common than pharming as the latter one needs more technical work with skilled hackers. Trap Phishing attacks and Spear Phishing attacks generally target common individuals whereas Whaling Phishing targets business officials.
  4. On the other hand, pharming is more dangerous than phishing. Even a smart online user can be tricked in the case of pharming as he/she remains unaware of the current status of the compromised website.
  5. Phishing involves emails, messages, phone calls, malware viruses on the client’s side; pharming does not require any of them as instrumental tools.
  6. Training and education of the general users are essential to be safe from phishing attacks. In the case of pharming, the technical team associated with the website of a certain organization needs to carry out routine checkups and enhance security measures as well as use secured web hosting; general clients can hardly do anything here.


In this age of technology, you can no way give any less importance to cybersecurity threats. Hopefully, a comprehensive detailing of phishing vs pharming along with their differences that are provided in this article was helpful for your understanding of a secured online life.

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