Criminal TypoSquatting on Rise


By registering misspelled web addresses, cyber thugs are seizing innocent victims Sophos, the IT security and data-protection company, is warning internet users to take care when they type in web addresses, especially the popular ones. By a subtle misspelling, users are taken to these cyber-bandits websites instead of the one intended.

This new form of criminal use is called typosquatting. They simply register a popular website with a slight misspelling that can go easily unnoticed by web surfers. These characters have found an ingenious way to bring traffic to their websites in the hopes of making money. Unfortunately many of these people are affiliates trying to promote programs and offers, and the methods are not only questionable, but potentially illegal.

A study by Sophos reveals that there is a vastly large ecosystem behind typosquatting and they like to target high profile domains. They rate an 86% possibility of people misspelling the web address for Apple’s homepage that unknowingly re-routes the user over to their own web pages.

738 URLs (5.1%) of the 14,495 that were misspelled led to adult or cybercrime sites. A worse- case scenario would be to misspell an address that could land you on an illegal website specifically designed to destroy your credentials or steal your identity. Senior technology consultant for Sophos says that the safest thing to do is to bookmark all your favourite websites.

Facebook is suing a man from Alpharetta Georgia for having a website that is far too much like the social media giant’s.

The charge laid against John Paul Souza for using a name that is very close to Facebook’s own is typosquatting.

The lawsuit states that when a user goes to the site that is owned by Souza, they see fonts, colors, and assorted designs that are falsely suggesting that the website is approved and connected to Facebook. The website was offering awards and prizes that never actually existed to complete surveys. Souza’s website was also full of offers and advertisements that asked for personal information. The suit also states that he was paid every time someone clicked on an ad, bought something or gave out personal information.

Facebook is claiming that Souza took intentional advantage to make things similar and his domain name is typosquatter efficient enough to drive traffic there.

Facebook wants the cancellation of Souza’s domain name or to transfer it to them for ownership, and among other requirements, award them damages and legal fees. At this time, Souza’s site is blocked from any misspelling travellers falling unknowingly into his trap.

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