What is typosquatting, and why is it dangerous to your business?

What is typosquatting, and why is it dangerous to your business?

Imagine this: on a typical workday, you power on your computer and open your web browser. You type in the URL of the website you want to visit, but instead of getting the content you expected, you see malicious advertisements and phishing sites. What happened?

This scenario is the result of a social engineering cyberattack known as typosquatting. In this blog, we will discuss what it is, how it puts your business in danger, and what you can do to protect your business from it.

What is typosquatting, and how does it work?

Typosquatting, also known as URL hijacking, is an attack where cybercriminals register domains with deliberately misspelled names of established websites.

For example, to imitate a website like PayPal.com, they might buy domain names like pay-pal.com or patpal.com. Users may end up at these fraudulent websites when they mistype the URL they want to visit or fall victim to a phishing scam.

These fake sites often mimic the real version, tricking users into entering sensitive information, such as their login credentials or bank details. Hackers can then use the collected information for financial and data theft. If the victim uses the stolen login credentials for other accounts, those accounts may also be compromised.

Typosquatting, also known as URL hijacking, is an attack where cybercriminals register domains with deliberately misspelled names of established websites.

What are some real-life examples of typosquatting?

One of the most famous instances of typosquatting attacks involved Google. In 1998, threat actors registered the site Goggle.com to use as a phishing site. Once accessed, the site would instantly download viruses and other malware onto the visitor’s device and start displaying various pop-up ads.

Over the years, cybercriminals have registered other domains using variations of Google’s name, such as hoogle.com, foogle.com, and toogle.com. They do this to divert traffic from the search engine and steal data from unsuspecting users.

And during the 2020 US Elections, a number of candidates reportedly had typosquatting domains set up in their names to redirect users to phishing sites.

How can you protect your business from typosquatting?

To protect your business from such an attack, you need to do the following:

1. Use antivirus software

Antivirus software typically comes with URL verification tools that check if a website is safe to visit. This program can also prevent a page from downloading malicious code and displaying fraudulent ads.

2. Enable multifactor authentication (MFA)

MFA requires users to provide at least one more authentication factor aside from a password, such as a one-time code, physical key, or a facial or fingerprint scan. Enabling MFA ensures that even if a cybercriminal acquires a set of login credentials through a typosquatted website, they won’t be able to access the associated account without providing the subsequent authentication factors.

3. Educate your staff

Provide your staff with information on how typosquatting attacks work and how these can be avoided. For instance, teach your employees to be mindful when typing a website in their web browser’s address bar or to hover their cursor over the link first to verify its authenticity.

4. Secure multiple variations of your domain

Your competition can hijack your website name to damage your reputation. To mitigate this risk, you can register multiple spellings of your domain. Register variations that include typographical errors, acronyms, hyphens, and other likely ways that a user may enter your domain name.

5. Monitor your brand online

Monitoring your brand online can help you quickly detect when someone registers a domain that typosquats your own. You can use online tools such as Google Alerts or Mention to get real-time notifications whenever your brand is mentioned online.

Complete Document Solutions provides the best protection from typosquatting and other cyberattacks. We will ensure that your IT infrastructure is always performing optimally and threats are immediately taken care of before they cause downtime. Request a FREE network and IT assessment today.

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