EFFECT OF PHARMING ATTACKS ONTHE FUNCTIONALITIES OF THE UNIVERSITY WEBSITES IN NORTHERN STATES OF NIGERIA
This paper investigates ‘the effects of pharming attacks on the functionalities of the University websites in Northern States of Nigeria. Two research objectives were stated: to find out the types of pharming attacks University websites are exposed to; and to identify the effects of pharming attacks on functionalities of the websites of the Universities in Northern States of Nigeria. The literature was reviewed based on research questions raised. Quantitative research methodology was adopted in the study. Multistage sampling technique (i.e. purposive, stratification, cluster, proportionate and simple random sampling) was used to select 9 Universities (3 each Federal, State and Private) with 127 ICT personnel which comprised of the Directors, the staff of the Software Development Units and the staff of the Networks Infrastructure and Security Units from a population of 61 Universities with 713 ICT personnel of the Universities in Northern States of Nigeria. Questionnaire was the instrument used for data collection. The data collected were presented and analysed using mean, standard deviation, frequencies and percentages. The study found that human factors attacks, local host and local networks attacks, domain configuration attack and domain registration attack among others were the types of pharming attacks University websites in Northern States of Nigeria are exposed to; and pharming attacks do affect the functionalities of the websites of the Universities studied by causing existing administrative settings to be incorrectly configured, poisoning an entire Domain Name System server, manipulating legitimate website’s traffic and hijacking search result. Other effects include making communication system to become vulnerable, loss of confidence by stakeholders, tarnishing institution image and tricking unsuspecting individuals into revealing sensitive data among others. The paper concludes that if security safeguards are not adequate, pharmers run little risk of getting caught. They can attack a system using techniques the designers never even considered. The study recommended that Policy statements should be enforced to reduce the effects of pharming attacks on the websites of the Universities. The authorities of the Universities should also provide insurance covers for their ICT technologies and trust worthy Internet Service Providers should be maintained.
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