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Cybersquatting and Typosquatting: What's the difference between them?

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  • Cybersquatting involves buying website URLs of already established businesses that do not have a related website.
  • Typosquatting involves buying a look-alike website URL that appears similar to the genuine URL of an established organization but actually contains a typo.

Cybersquatting and typosquatting both pose serious risks to an organization by affecting the organization’s reputation, income, and security.

What is Cybersquatting?

Cybersquatting or URL Hijacking is buying domain names of popular business names so that they can resell it in the future at a cost. Cybersquatting involves registering website URLs of already established businesses that do not have a related website.

For example, if Apple did not have a website, cybersquatters registered www.apple[.]com so that when Apple wanted to create a website in its name, it has to pay the cybersquatter and buy the website URL.

In such a case, Apple cannot have a different website because customers will obviously think that Apple’s website will be www.apple[.]com. This will cause damage to the brand’s reputation and its customers could be misled to the false website, therefore, Apple will have to buy back the URL from the cybersquatter.

What is Typosquatting?

On the other hand, Typosquatting is buying a look-alike website URL that appears similar to the genuine URL of an established organization but actually contains a typo.

For example, linkdin.com instead of linkedin.com and faceboook.com instead of facebook.com.

Typosquatters register such domain names with malicious intent. They can either use the domain names in phishing campaigns impersonating legitimate companies or can take advantage of users landing on their website because of typo errors.

  • Users at times make typographical errors while typing a URL in the address bar, this might lead to a fake website purchased by typosquatters.
  • These typosquatters could then harvest personal information, credentials, and credit card details from the victims.
  • They could also install malware on the visitor's computers.

How to stay protected?

  • It is best to use anti-spoofing technology in order to stay protected from such attacks.
  • Researchers recommend organizations to include DNSSEC, SPF, and DKIM in their DNS.
  • It is always recommended to check the URL in the address bar before logging into any website or while responding to an email.
  • Also, it is recommended to verify that the website you visit has a SSL certificate.
  • Experts recommend email users to secure their e-mail gateways and implement a good detection software that can identify mismatched domain names.
  • It is recommended to block external sites via router or firewall, allowing access to only what is required.
  • It is best to install a good reputation-based content filtering so that you can easily recognize less reputable links.
  • Organizations should educate their employees on how to identify fake domains.
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