Alternatively referred to as a web harvester, a harvester is software designed to parse large amounts of data. For example, a web harvester may process large numbers of web pages to extract account names, e-mail addresses, names, and phone numbers from a website.
With account harvesting, a person or program records login and password information from a legitimate user to illegally gain access to their account(s). The hacker who works to harvest accounts may use sniffing software to find data on a network, phishing scams, or shoulder surf to collect account information. Once multiple accounts are harvested, hackers can steal private or sensitive information, spam other users, or use the account for illegal monetary gain.