What is Domain Typosquatting & How to Defend Yourself?

Typosquatting is URL hijacking which targets online surfers who wrongly type a website address into their browser. For instance, when you go to ‘yahhoo.com’ instead of ‘yahoo.com’, you might be a victim of a hacker who has set up the site for mischievous purposes. Cybersquatters buy or pick a domain name with the sole purpose of leveraging on the popularity of a domain or website name. In most cases they snap them up before a parent company can buy them.

domain typo

Fooling Ignorant People

There are a host of things that a typosquatter can do with this domain. An option would be to turn the domain into a link farm where virtual visitors can click on ads and generate revenue. Others come up with similar sites, fooling ignorant people into thinking that they are on the right site and stealing their personal information in the process. These baddies on the Internet often create fraudulent websites meant to sell products and services on their dodgy sites similar to the website in which you had the intention of visiting.

Stealing Virtual information

Others are set up for the sole purpose of stealing virtual information like credit card information and passwords. You might not even need to click on a link, simply visiting the site is all that is required and your personal information might be in jeopardy. These sites are downright dangerous because they contain nasty software that can download on to your device just by visiting the site.

How Domain Typo Squatting Workd

You do not need to click on a link before a download is automatically triggered and installed on your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. In other cases, these cyber terrorists employ phishing methods to get you to visit their websites.

They set up fake sites and then send out notifications asking about your financial information. They tell you to urgently provide your data because they are upgrading their facilities or trying to gather up loss data after a system breakdown. They do this using a typsquatted domain name and a copycat site. It is unfortunate that this continues to be yummy bait for plenty of people.

How To Safeguard Your Domain

So if you own a website, how do you safeguard your domain from being hijacked by typosquatters?

  1. Register your trademark and copyright before anyone does. You can also steal a march on these fraudsters by buying common typo domains for less than $10-12 every year.
  2. Use the Domain Hack or Typo Finder tool to find common typos and discover fraud or phishing sites on the web. You can take affirmative action.
  3. Use save domain search tool or invest in safe search tools like McAfee and SiteAdvisor which provides a forewarning for malicious sites in your search results. The World Intellectual Organization (WIPO) and the National Arbitration Forum work hand in hand to towards stifling the menace of these typosquatters.

How To Protect From Domain Squatting

If you are just an innocent online browser minding his business, how do you protect yourself from this menace?

Do not click on unsolicited mail. If your bank or credit card company sends you an urgent message that your account has been hacked and you need to verify your financial information, do not take it seriously. Banks and credit card companies do not send emails. They call you. The IRS authorities use snail mail.

Do not try to win anything.  These scammers tell you that you have won a zillion dollars or that you bagged a free vacation for you and your terrier to the Bahamas.  Do you normally win contests that you know nothing about? These toxic sites are meant to capture your keystrokes and empty your account. Beware!

Get secured with software for your computer. You would only spend less than $200 a year for this precaution as compared to losing $1000’s from your account. This is a bargain don’t you think?

Ryan

Ryan Shyan is a web enthusiast who loves to develop interesting and unique web tools and applications and leaves in Australia. He is also an SEO expert and loves to write about latest web applications and SEO techniques and has published articles in many different journals and article directories. He is also the founder of NameStall.com.

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