As you know, mistyping web addresses is common. You can bet cybercriminals are aware of this, too, and that they are going to take advantage of it. What they’ll do is create variations of commonly used domain names – a crime called typosquatting. This is a form of brand abuse as it affects the reputation of the business whose domain names cybercriminals try to mimic.
In this post, FraudWatch will share information that you need to know about typosquatting – what it is and, more importantly, what you can do to prevent it:
What Typosquatting Is
Typosquatting is a cybercrime that involves the registration of a domain name that is similar to existing brands that are often misspelled or have typographical errors. For instance, there could be missing or transposed letters. Hyphens or extra letters may also be added. In some cases, alternative spellings are used, like ‘colorstyling.com’ instead of ‘colourstyling.com.’ The people who do this seek to take advantage of online users who may not be aware that they are on a fraudulent website. Usually, this is done to generate profits for the host or to get users to reveal personal information.
How Typosquatting Can Affect Your Business and Your Clients
If you think that this is harmless, you are mistaken. Here are some of the ways typosquatting can affect your brand and your customers:
Using a realistic copy of your website, they could pretend to sell products that the customer was indeed planning to buy from your website. They’ll get the payment, and the customer won’t receive the product because, of course, it wasn’t a legitimate transaction with you! In addition to that, they can also redirect traffic back to the genuine website via affiliate links. Another way to typosquat is by changing the domain endings from ‘.com’ to ‘.biz’ or by changing the country code.
Creators of web pages like this get a commission from the purchases of the company’s affiliate program or even by just redirecting traffic to the actual website.
They may also use those fake websites to install adware or malware on your device. They may also cash in on ad earnings from visitors or make guests fill out feedback forms for the purpose of stealing and selling their data later on. Some do typosquatting for the mere purpose of ruining and misrepresenting the brand in a humiliating manner.
How You Can Protect Your Website
With the different opportunities for typosquatting, you want to make sure that your brand is not going to be affected. Here are some of the few ways you can do that:
- Register different country top-level domains as well as a few possible mistyped domain names of your company and automatically send visitors of those websites to your original website.
- Check your domain registration and any mistyped variations. Whenever you find a similar one, see if you need to act against that site.
Typosquatting is just one of the many crimes committed online today. Because the task of tracking fraudulent websites and taking them down can be time-consuming and tedious, it’s still so much better to be proactive with your brand protection measures. By working with a trusted digital brand protection company, you won’t have to worry about things like typosquatting, phishing, malware, and other types of cybercrime.