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Malicious Typo Domains

March 17, 2016

There's good reason to be careful when typing a website address directly into a browser - and for businesses to perhaps consider registering common "typo" variations of their domain names.

Typosquatting has been around for a very long time. It's the practice whereby parties register domain names that are misspellings of a brand or business in an effort to scoop up typo traffic; i.e. when a domain name typed into a browser incorrectly. 

Often typo domains may just host offers from a competitor or even non-relevant offers, but sometimes it can be far worse.

Security firm Endgame reports there's at least one major .om typosquatting campaign targeting at more than 300 well-known organizations. It relies on users leaving off the "c" for .com names, or typing it like so: That's just an example and that name may or may not resolve - but just to be safe, don't try it. By the way, the .OM extension is the namespace associated with the country of Oman.

Endgame reports some of these typo sites attempt to install malware/adware on the computers of wayward visitors. You can read more about it here.

The situation is a reminder that it can be in a company's interests to take note of any typos of its name that it becomes aware of being in common usage among its customers and then perhaps registering those domains. Even if nothing is done with those names after registration; that's better than what could happen if someone else gets hold of it. 

While large companies may have deep pockets for defensive registrations, for small businesses the costs can mount up very quickly - so it's really a matter of carefully picking and choosing the addresses to register.

Thankfully, typosquatting isn't particularly rife in the .AU name space due to more stringent registration criteria and .AU domains usually costing more than generic TLD's such as .COM.

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