Phishers use DNS tricks to direct users to bad sites

The latest information on phishing shows that phishers are increasingly using malicious software to direct users to their fraudulent sites.

The latest information on phishing indicates that fraudsters are increasingly using malicious software to direct users to their deceptive sites.

The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) said in a new report Thursday that it saw a sharp rise in November in malware that directs users to DNS (Domain Name System) servers controlled by phishers.

DNS servers play a crucial role in locating websites. The servers translate a domain name into an IP (Internet protocol) address, enabling a website to be located and accessed through a browser.

Often, the phishers will set up their own DNS server that works fine most of the time but can redirect to their own malicious site.

Tainting a person's DNS settings is particularly dangerous since the user probably won't notice the redirection, the APWG said.

"The fraudulent server replies with 'good' answers for most domains, however, when they want to direct you to a fraudulent one, they simply modify their name server responses," the report said.

Phishers are also employing malware that modifies an internal PC file called the hosts, which is used to match domain names of websites with IP addresses.

When a person visits a website, the browser checks the hosts to see if it has an IP address for a particular domain name. If the hosts file is corrupted or hijacked, the browser can be directed to fetch a different Web page than the one the user intended to go to.

Both attacks -- also known as pharming -- are dangerous, since a user may be typing in the correct URL (uniform resource locator) but be directed to the phishing site.

The APWG reported that the overall number of unique phishing sites declined in November, but 178 different brands were targeted, a record number. By comparison, 120 brands were used in phishing attacks in October. The highest previous total was in April 2007, when 174 brands were targeted.

More Middle Eastern and European financial services companies were spoofed in phishing schemes, APWG said. The financial services industry is the most targeted for fraud, comprising 93.8 per cent of all phishing attacks.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?