Alarms sound as hackers ‘pharm’ for fresh blood

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Alarms sound as hackers ‘pharm’ for fresh blood

The Financial Supervisory Service and the National Police Agency issued a warning this week about an online hacking scam dubbed “pharming,” a newly coined word that combines farming and phishing.

Unlike phishing, which focuses on stealing users’ personal access data including passwords, pharming redirects a Web site’s traffic to an identical-looking bogus site, even when the user types in the correct IP address.

It is usually carried out by e-mail, instant messaging or voice calls.

According to the FSS and the police, hackers install malware within the video files of recently released movies they upload on illegal file-sharing Web sites.

When Internet users download such files to their personal computers, they are later sent to fraudulent sites when, for example, conducting online banking.

As soon as the user inputs their personal information to access an online account, money starts to leak out.

One victim who accessed his online banking account by clicking on the Web address saved under his list of favorites said he was asked to input the numbers on his security card, which is used as a passcode for online financial transactions.

He said he was suspicious at first but complied.

The next day, his account had been completely emptied.

“Online banking Web sites never ask their customers to type in all the numbers printed on the security card,” said an FSS official.

“Whenever the site requests this, close the window immediately and delete the malignant code, no matter how similar the site looks to the official one.”

While pharming is emerging as a new trend among hackers, phishing scams are growing in both diversity and ingenuity.

One victim wired 5 million won ($4,425) of tuition money after he received a call from someone introduced as an officer at the college he applied to.

The so-called faculty member said the man had been accepted to his course and the money should be transferred immediately.

According to the National Police Agency, reported cases of voice phishing fell to 4,041 in the first half of this year, down from 4,898 cases in the second half of last year.

But the number is still well above the 3,346 cases reported in the first six months of 2011.


By Sohn Hae-yong [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]
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