Are You a Victim Of Typosquatting?
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Are You a Victim Of Typosquatting?

What is typosquatting? How to fight typosquatting?

Most people do not even know this term or concept exists until they become a victim of it. While logging into the Gmail site, if you accidentally type gmial.com into the address bar, you will be directed to gmial site - a fraudulent site trying to attract visitors through an ingenious way. No, the site does not actively cheat people; neither does it use malware or spyware. All it does is to rely on the statistical probability that some proportions of Gmail users will invariably mistype the web address.

If this is your first brush with such things, welcome to the dark world of internet frauds. As compared to the grizzly tricks used by internet fraudsters, typosquatting is actually quite harmless barring the occasional annoyance it causes. But coupled with a pervert and malicious intention, this may also cause havoc. For example, a very infamous case is that of goggkle.com which when visited infects the user computer with dangerous spyware. The prevalence of these sites can be estimated from the simple fact that youtube.com has nearly 320 known typosquatting domains while wikipedia.com has 266.

As the name suggests, typosquatting relies on the typographical error that people make while entering the URL address in their browser. The typosquatter registers common misspells of a popular URL as domain names and wait for the victims to make the first move. Once the user is directed to the site, they can be lured to buy something, click on advertisements or simply be infected with some computer virus. To fool the users further, a typosquatter can also try to mimic the original website’s logo and web contents. One other way of operating such site is to deliberately introduce typos into a web page or metadata. When users enter these typos in search engines, the fraudulent sites will show up in the result pages.

To make matters worse, Google seems to be in collusion with the typosquatters, albeit indirectly. These sites often harbor sponsored links which point to the legitimate domain and Google’s AdSense for Domains (AFD) program comes handy in here. When the user clicks on these links, the legitimate site-owner pays the typosquatter site for the referral and Google pockets a part of it as commission. In fact, if the noted Harvard professor and researcher Ben Edelman is to be believed, Google earns approximately $500 million annually from the typosquatter sites.

 

Combating typosquatting

At present, avoidance seems to be the best available option for the internet users to steer clear of this menace. Bookmarking frequently visited websites and then using the stored bookmarks in future is a prudent way. Also, while visiting unfamiliar sites it is better to type the domain in the search engine than directly into the address bar. The search results mostly place the legitimate domain higher up in the page and also suggest the right spelling in case of typing mistakes. Following these preventive measures can considerably reduce your possibility of becoming a victim of typosquatting.

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Comments (6)
PRASHANT

Devii.....really its a good article.....

What a lot of interesting info in your well composed article here. Thank you. Promoted since I am out of votes.

Bookmarks are the way to go in modern browsing. You never have to type a url manually again if you use bookmarks and google.

Voted up. Great info

Great article... I wasn't aware of this being such a huge problem! Thanks for the info!

I had no idea. Thank you for sharing this.

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