By Alan Graner
Disclaimer: Daly-Swartz Public Relations has no connections with Sophos, Ltd.
You’ve done it dozens of times. You type a URL and suddenly you find yourself on a strange website.
Instantly you know the problem. You misspelled the URL. Maybe you added a letter, left one out, transposed a couple. So, you hit your forehead or emit an exasperated snort and reenter the correct URL.
Just minor inconvenience. Right?
Uh, no. That little error can get you into BIG trouble.
That’s according on a report on typosquatting by Sophos, the IT security and data protection company http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/typosquatting/.
What is typosquatting?
According to Sophos, “Typosquatters register mis-spellings of popular domains in the hope that they will be able to make money out of traffic from unintentional typing mistakes, or fat-finger errors, made by internet surfers.”
Are typosquatting sites dangerous?
Only 0.01% of typosquatting sites infect visitors with malware.
So typosquatting is basically benign, yes?
Besides the danger of cybercrime or infection, there are other typosquatting hazards such as:
Bait and switch. Popular websites like iTunes attract typosquatters who are just waiting for you to land on their own websites where they hope to entice you into using their services instead.
Brand abuse. Typosquatters pass off their bogus sites as the real thing. For example, mistype “Googel” you can land on a fake Google website that looks exactly like the real thing. The payoff? When you click on a revenue-generating link, the money goes to the typosquatter instead of the company paying for the link. Another name for this is scam.