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Phishers Target New Generic Top Level Domains

September 23, 2014

It hasn't taken long for phishers to start taking advantage of the many new gTLD's now available; an issue that could additionally impact on consumer perceptions and trust in the new extensions.

MalwareBytes reports that after checking its honeypot logs, it found a dozen or so new extensions that were being used by parties for nefarious purposes. Rather than these domains having been registered by the fraudsters themselves, it appears most were just exploiting weaknesses in existing sites.

Internet Storm Center has also reported what it describes as a "wave of phishing emails" associated with the .SUPPORT generic top level domain.

"Phishing emails per se are nothing new," says Daniel Wesemann. "But it appears that URLs like the one shown in the phishing email above have a higher success rate with users."

Furthermore, in the case he describes, Mr. Wesemann also mentions it features an SSL connection to the phishing site; meaning "another 'scam indicator' that we once taught our users is also no longer valid".

Even earlier than these reports was one from Kaspersky Lab's SecureList in June stating they had identified malicious activities including malware and phishing pages registered in a dozen new domains.

"Brazilian phishers and domains squatters are particularly interested in these new gTLDs, already having registered several new domains using names of local brands such as banks, online stores, and credit card companies," according to the report.

The explosion of new domain choices may tempt many business owners to register one of these as their primary domain. However, while phishing certainly occurs on the long established extensions, it's generally believed .COM will remain the Beverley Hills of online real estate for the foreseeable future. 

For Australian businesses doing business with Australian consumers, .COM.AU domain registration probably remains the wisest choice. A recent survey showed consumer trust in .COM.AU remains solid and found .AU domains experience more than double the level of consumer trust over any other extension.

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